This is a collection of “life lessons” from parents who have children with disabilities. They were asked, “If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?”
- "I would understand the phrase 'It may take longer for a person with a developmental disability to learn a skill.' I've repeated that statement many times through the years, all the while hoping and praying it was true. But honestly, I'd begun to wonder. It seemed like I would teach and teach certain skills or concepts, but my child just didn't seem to be learning. Now that she's a teenager, she's making progress in areas I wasn't sure she ever would! It's amazing, reassuring, and it gives me the boost I need to keep trying. If I knew years ago that 'may take longer' can mean many years and not just a few months, weeks or days, I might have been more patient with myself and with my daughter. And I might have saved myself from all these gray hairs!"
- "I would have an expectation of independence for my child with a disability. I had the expectation for my child without a disability; why not have the same expectation for both children? A person’s support needs should not limit his/her participation in life. No one does everything on their own. We all do only what we are capable of. The rest of the time we know to ask for help, and that in itself is independence. I would help my child reach more independence."
- "I would understand that the educational day does not end when the bell rings at 3 o’clock. The time after the bell rings is a continuation of the school day. Natural learning experiences through extra-curricular activities are priceless."
- "I would help my child find her voice – to live a self-determined life. Parents can encourage and support their child’s efforts to express their wants, needs, desires, and dreams. It may require listening with all your senses, but it will be worth it."
- "I would take the predictions of others about my daughter’s abilities with a grain of salt. I would stay true to our vision, and her dreams and goals. Over the years, I was told many times of the things my daughter would never accomplish, but she has shattered those predictions time and time again."
- "I would be wary of the term 'special.' Many times it is used to describe a program, service or activity for a person with a disability. Often, calling the program 'special' is a way to justify a segregated service, classroom, or facility."
You can find more stories and parent experiences in the Family Support section of this website. Our video library also offers additional parent experiences and stories.