Part of an Exclusive Club

Our whole lives we want to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. It starts back in pre-school and kindergarten when you want to be with the group that has the best toys or the best food at lunch. In junior high it’s all about being popular and hoping someone might dance with you at the next school dance. In college you want to be considered one of the intellectuals and position yourself for that big job right after graduation.

I know I’ve felt all of these things throughout my life journey so far. Eventually though you hit a point where you’re in your 30’s, have a family, and a secure job and you don’t know what club you’re vying for anymore. I’ve wondered in the past, should I join a book club? A Bible study? A softball team?

We usually get to choose the clubs we want to get in or there’s at least something we can do to get chosen. I’m now a member of an exclusive club though that I didn’t ask to be in and can be a scary one. It’s called the ‘parents of a child with special needs’ club.

To be honest, before our son was diagnosed with autism, the term ‘special needs’ made me think only of kids with visible effects. I knew very little of people with autism or other disorders that affect kids but may not be apparent upon first glance.

But once you get your ticket into this club you learn that you’re not alone. Not only is the autism club growing at an alarming rate, but when you start meeting with ‘special needs’ groups you learn about all sorts of other developmental delays. Even thought autism and things like Down syndrome don’t necessarily have a lot of things in common on the surface, the parents of these children deal with many of the same feelings. Feelings of loss, confusion, anxiety and of being overwhelmed.

So now that I’m part of this club I have an even greater respect for those who are parents of or work with kids with special needs. Whether it’s something that’s mild or a it’s a life-crippling condition I don’t think anyone can truly understand what it’s like until you’ve punched your ticket and gained entrance into this society.

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