Olympic competitors walk an exciting, hard, intense road. They often start training when they are very young. Some choose their sport, some say their sport chose them. Some even have their sport chosen by their parents or government.
To become the best, they train for countless hours, year after year. They have coaches, trainers, doctors, and therapists to help them. They have the support of family and friends. A gymnast does start out doing double layouts… she starts out with a somersault. There are so many incremental steps to get to that top level.
There are setbacks. There are injuries. There are tears. There are times when they want to throw in the towel and give up. But pep talks are given and they pick themselves up to try again.
Then there are the successes. There are moments along the way where they win big and the celebration is everything. In the end, the feeling of making it to the Olympics is indescribable. It was worth every moment of hard work and sacrifice to get there.
Parents of children with disabilities walk an exciting, hard, intense road. Most have the title of special needs parent thrust upon them with a surprise diagnosis. With tenderness they say that their child chose them. Some choose this road through adoption.
From the beginning, we special needs parents see the road laid out ahead of us. There are so many steps to helping our children thrive and reach their full potential. We work for countless hours on therapy exercises, on the phone with doctors and therapists, advocating for our kids in all arenas. We see that a milestone is in fact made up of many inchstones. We know that it doesn’t just go sit, crawl, stand, walk. There are so many tiny steps in between that our kids fight for. We cheer our kids on as they work hard to achieve each of these little successes. We don’t do it alone. We have family and friends to support us. We work with teams of therapists and doctors developing plans to help our children grow and meet goals.
There are setbacks. There is anger and there are tears. There are difficult medical obstacles. There are times when we want to throw in the towel and give up. There are times when it all seems too hard. But then we look at our child and see the amazing journey they have brought us on. People speak into our lives words of encouragement and we pick ourselves up and keep moving. Because our kids need us. Because our kids deserve it.
Then there are the successes. The first time your child smiles at you. The first time they sit, or crawl, stand or walk. The first time they purposefully communicate with you. The feeling of those moments is indescribable. The pride and joy make you want to burst. And you know that every moment of this long, hard, amazing, intense journey is worth it. You have won the gold medal simply by being the parent of this amazing person.