Special-needs is a difficult term because, in reality, all children have special and unique needs. That being said, my cousin was born extra special 18 years ago. She was premature and had a full head of jet black hair. I was 10 years old, the oldest sibling of 6 girls and still fell in love with her and couldn’t get enough of her amazing self.
It would be hard to describe the full extent of the disabilities Chloe is considered to have. She has CMV which presents as cerebral palsy. Over the years she has had numerous surgeries, treatments etc.
As a young teen I remember babysitting and learning how to use a feeding tube. It was terrifying and also exciting to be trusted with such care for her. She hadn’t been able to keep anything down for so long that I was happy to feed her in a way that I thought would leave me mess-free, rather than being vomited on. That backfired when I was holding her following a tube feeding and I forgot to close the g-tube and ended up a mess anyway. That was a mistake that I only made once!
I decided to pursue a career in special education and Chloe had a large hand in my decision. Throughout high school and college I worked with special needs students in varying settings. I loved the challenge and the exciting moments the children experienced that may be ordinary to others.
You never know the impact that your child will have on the life of others. I speak of the glorious moments of learning and developing that I was able to experience. I know there were also challenges, rough moments (or longer) and times of grief over what could never be for Chloe’s family. I respect that and understand that everyone’s experience with their special needs child is entirely different and unique.
Chloe and her family could never have known the impact that she would make upon me at a young age. Similarly, you will never know who your child is impacting at any given moment. Your child is here and the way they are for a reason that may never truly be understood.