Talia riding a bike. Photo courtesy of Amy Baskin.
Do you have an amazing kid with special needs? Yup, me too. And it’s hard to believe that three years have passed since I posted my first Today's Parent blog. Here's a snippet from that first post:
“Maybe I watch too much sci-fi like Battlestar Galactica and Dr. Who, but I think of special needs parenting as a parallel universe. In our world, we do the usual parenting stuff, but daily life is in hyperdrive — more painful, more joyful and more complicated. And even though I’ve been in that parallel parenting world for 16 years, I still have moments that leave me weeping in my car — a stage I thought I left years ago ..."
Funny — but that paragraph still rings true for me. So much has changed in the three years that I’ve been blogging. Research continues to unearth potential causes and treatments for autism and for other disabilities. The rate of autism continues to soar. And through technology and specialized apps, kids with special needs are finding their voices and gaining new abilities.
It’s been an exciting few years for my daughter Talia too. In high school she’s tried job placements at restaurants, at the Humane Society and at a seniors’ home. A gutsy traveller, she’s paddled on a five-day school canoe trip and gone dog-sledding at a youth exchange program in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. But these years have brought challenges too — including Tal’s struggles with communication.
My daughter’s all grown up. In makeup and sparkly dresses, she’s danced at proms. She’s gone on movie dates with her favourite handsome young man. And, with the help of friends, she’s realized her dream of getting her ears pierced.
Friends — how incredibly precious. I’ve blogged about how current research shows that 53% of children with disabilities do not have a single friend. And I’ve written about our family’s efforts to increase Tal’s friendships — by starting a formal circle of support. Surrounded by her circle friends, Talia is starting to make her own choices and to follow her own dreams.
Guess you know what I’m leading up to, right? Sadly, this is my last blog post for Today’s Parent. This blog has been a joy and a journey for me. Thank you Talia, Jack and Leah for allowing me to share our stories. And thank you, readers, for sharing your experiences and advice.
On a happy note, I'll now be writing for the new Today's Parent online Special Needs Parenting section. One in five Canadian families has children with special needs. It's time for us to get loud and proud. And I’m thrilled that we have a home at todaysparent.com.
Also, I’m launching Kids Grow Up, a new blog about parenting young adults with special needs. If your child is preteen or older — or if you’re thinking about the future — this blog’s for you. And I’ll be tweeting about parenting and the writing life at @AmyNBaskin. Can’t wait to connect with all of you there.
So, here are my final Today’s Parent bloggy words of wisdom: Take a walk, eat chocolate, phone your best friend, escape with a book and snuggle with the ones you love. The happier and healthier you are, the better you are for your kids. Hugs and talk soon, ok?
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