Loving the Child You Have: The Unseen Rewards of Having a Child with Special Needs

Posted June 18, 2010 by

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There’s an analogy about traveling to Italy vs. Holland for parents of children with special needs. You plan for this trip to Italy and then get re-routed and end up in Holland. Nothing is wrong with Holland, it’s just that you have to adapt to something completely different than what you expected. When you go there you gain new experiences that you never thought you would have.

I still feel that way about how things have unfolded ever since we found out about our four-and-a-half-year old son E’s hearing loss. I recently experienced this phenomenon when I hosted a play date for E with his friends from school. During that time, I hung out with the moms of his friends and we had a great time talking and sharing our experiences and knowledge. I thought of how I wouldn’t have met these moms if E wasn’t born with hearing loss. I also think of the great teachers and speech therapists he has had and how we wouldn’t have even known about them if this hadn’t come about. The connections and friendships I have made because of E’s hearing loss are very important to me. I also love how diligent he is about wearing his hearing aids and how well he has adapted to his cochlear implant. Overall, his hearing loss has shaped me as a person. I don’t take what he says, or even what my two-year-old son M says, for granted. His laughter is music to my ears, as well. While I am on my trip to Italy with M, I still love spending time in Holland with E.


Melissa A. and her husband have 2 young sons, E and M, and a new baby daughter. Melissa's son E has hearing loss and wears a cochlear implant. Melissa works as an administrative assistant for a non-profit and also runs a bullying prevention group and a book-related fan group, in addition to blogging for Empowering Parents. You can check out Melissa’s personal blog here.

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  1. Susan Engel (Edit) Report

    Welcome to the EP Parent Blogger team, Melissa! It is humbling and heartwarming to hear your gratitude amidst the challenges that you and your son face. I had not heard this analogy before, but it seems to fit!

    I look forward to reading more from you! Keep up the great work, mom! 😉

  2. Central Wisconsin (Edit) Report

    I believe that many of us with a son or daughter with special needs feels that way. It may take some of us a longer time to realize that than others, but it’s true! I remember receiving the same analogy after our sone was diagnosed with autism and I have handed it out in the packets of information to other parents when I have assisted them. It’s hard to describe, but going on this ‘adventure’ these past 10 years, has given me such an insight and I believe has made me a much more compassionate, understanding human being. Even though my son has had so many challenges, I see how many more have even GREATER challenges out there! The fact that he has autism, has not given him a ‘free ride’ or used as an ‘excuse’ for improper behavior! The Total Transformation program and these newsletters have been a crucial part of his development. We discovered it at the time in our lives when we really needed it and it has made ALL the difference! In fact, we are proud to say that our son is attending a week long ‘regular’ camp for the very first time! I don’t believe our family would be where it is today without the program. Thank you everyone at the Total Transformation organization, and especially Mr. James Lehman for the difference they have made in our family. Each hurdle and milestone we meet successfully is greatly due to you in bringing our the best in our family. Our son is our hero! To all parents our there – DON’T GIVE UP! The mantra my son uses is “Never, never, never give up!” so hang in there and stay the course!

  3. Laura Rachel Fox (Edit) Report

    Thanks for sharing this unique perspective. I remember hearing that analogy while working toward my Education degree. It is refreshing to see it lived out and in such a positive way.



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