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Your Special Parent Manual
February 15, 2013

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We all want the best for our kids - the best services, care and education. From the moment we learned our kids were differently-abled, we began searching for all that our child may need. From the beginning, we were the ones that had to figure out what worked for our child and what didn't. We spend sleepless nights, each and every month, watching them sleep, thinking and wondering about their futures. And we all want to make sure the decisions we make will enhance their lives.

I tell parents every day to trust their special parent instincts and to not doubt the decisions they make. No one knows our kids like we do. We all learn as we go. We will make mistakes, and as long as we learn from those mistakes, I feel we are still moving in the right direction.

My prayer for all of us this month is that we will trust each and every decision we make for our kids - even if the decision on the treatment we tried didn't work out - and that we learn from each and every one of them.

Author Graham Cooke said it this way, "When we do something for the first time, we inevitably learn how not to do it. Our first mistakes in a new process are more about learning than the error. Failure to learn is the only real mistake we can make when doing something for the first time."

As I look back on the past ten years with my daughter, I can recall many services that I thought were the best for her, weren't necessarily what she needed at that time. But I wouldn't have learned that if I had not tried. I still had to go with my special parent sense and trust my decision. We all have to remember that we start this journey with nothing but that sense. There is no special parent manual that we can refer to that applies to every symptom and treatment that is best for our child, with each kind of provider that we need to help them progress.

That manual is specific to each one of us, and our children. I believe that God placed the keyboard that we need to figure out all the words to our special manual inside us the moment our children came into this world. And He never promised us we wouldn't make mistakes.

An integral part of our manual includes the people that we meet along the way who help us write certain chapters. These amazing people are all the professionals that have been in our lives. They are all part of our team of writers that our manual wouldn't be complete without.

We can't do this alone, with only one kind of doctor, or one kind of therapist, or only one teacher. We have to continually gather this team as our child grows and learns. Some treatments we try may have been from another special parent's manual. But there are many other treatments, conventional and nonconventional, that we may need to seek out for ourselves and for our child's unique needs. Trying a treatment that has yet to be documented in any other special parent manual takes confidence and courage. It may or may not have a permanent page in your book. But what if it does? Trying it is the only way to find out.

I promise you will find the perfect team to help you and your child write your very own special manual. It is a continual, fluid manuscript that will be edited as you go.

Trust yourself and your decisions. Don't focus on the mistakes in your manual, focus on what you learned from those mistakes, so each treatment - each chapter - will get better with each page of your child's life.

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