Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SO Much To Be Grateful For!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
~ 1 Chronicles 16:34, NIV ~

Sitting in a meeting with a local business owner, I found myself sharing with him what I share with everyone who seems to feel sorry for those of us raising children with special needs.  We are SO blessed to be living at this point in time and in this country.  We have SO much to be grateful for!  Consider this list next time you are feeling a bit down:
  • No matter how you feel about our healthcare laws or the ability to pay for that healthcare, if you live in the United States, you still have access to the best healthcare in the world.
  • There are countless helping organizations like Make-A-Wish, Variety Club Children's Charities, Easter Seals, Ronald McDonald House and the like who are all there to stand in the gap for families like ours.  Scholarships and financial aid are more readily available to us than ever before
  • Science has provided so many advances in the treatment and cure of various diseases, including rare disorders.  Researchers have more information about effective therapies and treatments than ever before.
  • Laws now require that our children receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) with Individual Education Plans (IEP) and 504 Plan adaptations.  Inclusive classrooms and special education are now the national standard. 
  • Along with those educational requirements, there are places like Wrights Law that are here to direct and advocate for families like us.  We have allies who will fight for us like never before.
  • We have greater access than ever to information on diagnoses, treatments, our rights under the law, and a wide variety of supports because of the wonder of the internet.  Whether it be WebMD or a diagnosis-specific organization like The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, we can quickly learn the latest information about virtually any given disorder.
  • In addition to the information we can access on the internet, we now have the unique ability to build support relationships with others without ever leaving our homes.  Facebook, Twitter and private websites set up using tools like Ning or WordPress all provide forums along with opportunities to meet other parents walking our same journey.
  • All of this internet access is made available to families like ours right from our children's hospital rooms when there is an admission.  This proves to be a tremendous blessing in keeping others informed when there is a crisis or challenge.
  • Assistive animals are now used in remarkable ways.  While seeing eye dogs have been used for generations with those who are visually challenged, therapy pets, seizure animals and service dogs are a unique tool in this generation.
  • Inclusion and acceptance have become the goal rather than ostracizing and institutionalizing.  Children once sent away to special schools or ridiculed even by adults are now increasingly being welcomed rather than outcast.
  • Life expectancy and quality of life have improved for our special kids.  Whereas children with diagnoses such as Cystic Fibrosis used to only make it to the age of 15, their life expectancy has now more than doubled in recent decades.  Men that were once crippled by the joint bleeds of hemophilia now enjoy a reasonably normalized life.
  • Because of improvements in the past few decades, we are immensely blessed to recognize our children for the amazing and unique individuals they are with beautiful personalities, their own likes and dislikes, and remarkable talents.  In other words, we are no longer advised or lead to believe that our children are without hope, cognitively incapable or should be cast aside.
  • There are still children around the world who don't have crutches, don't have wheelchairs, simple medical treatments and who are considered cursed because of their special needs.  How blessed we are that we do not live in a nation where our children face these additional myths and battles!
  • The future holds promise for our children.  There are terrific work opportunities in this generation for kids with a diagnosis.  Work training programs are also easily accessible.
  • Clothes on our backs, food on our tables, a roof over our heads...
These are just a few of the countless reasons we parents of children with special needs ought to be lifting an extra prayer of thanks and praise at this time of year.  When you get discouraged, give this list a look and realize, even though you are weary and may think things look dark, you are richly blessed.  Give God the praise and thanks He so deserves!

PRAY:  Father, I confess that too often I count my burdens rather than my blessings.  Today I offer You my thanks and praise for all you provide, not only for our special child, but for our entire family.  Make my life  a shining example of thanks-living!

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