In my 16 years as a parent of a child with disabilities, one of the things I treasure the most is the friendships I have made along the way. I truly can't even remember what I used to go out and talk about before I had a child with autism. In Midland, Texas there aren't many support groups for parents, but it's funny how we seem to find each other.
I have met other parents like me: parents trying to act normal while their child is having a meltdown in public. I approach them and just say, "Hey, I know what you are going through. We have the same situation." Before you know it, we exchange phone numbers and are having a mom's night out talking about our kids.
My 3 best friends have or had children with various disabilities. We call ourselves the Yoyos (don't ask why). We have been through it all: marriage, divorce, the death of a child. Now, 2 of them have moved from Midland. It just makes my heart hurt. We celebrated many of our happy and sad moments over chips and queso—because in West Texas, queso cures what ails you.
For 6-1/2 years I served on a state-appointed committee in Austin. The work was very demanding. But over that time, I again developed friendships with some of the strongest women I have ever met. I gained so much knowledge and bonded with them, all because we had been thrown into similar circumstances.
With all these ladies, the minute we start talking, I would realize that I am not alone. That is the best feeling out there. I am not alone and I am not doing everything wrong. And for the second I think I might be ruining my child's life forever, I just eat more queso!
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.