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    Posted July 8, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Raising a special needs child

    I learned angles are amoung us

    I had Noel when I was 23yrs old. I was a single mother from the day she was born it was just her and I. We ended up moving from a homeless shelter for pregnant women in with my parents when she was a day old. At a very young age Noel began to not reach common milestones that other babies her age were achieving with ease. This began to raise my concern for her well being and I would bring my concerns up to her doctor who would just inform me that since she was my first child I was an over protective mother who had nothing to worry about. As she grew older another doctor recommended that I get her into a program called ECI which helped babies who were behind reach the milestones they were supposed to be achieving. She continued this program and when she was in it I had to take her to the doctor for an MCHAT which is the autism test they do at 18months. She failed and after she had I talked with one of her therapists that was coming to my home about autism. I had heard of it before but never imagined my child would be diagnosed with it. You hear so many stories that autism is a regressive condition. That one day your child is normal and the next they have autism. So when this was first mentioned I was in denial thinking my daughter would catch up with her peers with the therapy that she was offered through ECI. As soon as she failed the MCHAT I was refereed to a developmental pediatrician that we began to go to every 6 months. They monitored her development and came to a point when she was 2.5 that she did in fact meet the criteria to be diagnosed with autism. This process was such a long one that by the time she was diagnosed I was not surprised but in fact relieved because once you have an actual diagnoses then you can receive therapies that your child needs. My daughter Noel is not sever on the autism spectrum nor is mild, she is in the middle range which not allot of people talk about. Raising a child in the middle of the autism spectrum still has its challenges my daughter is 4 and nonverbal, not potty trained, and still very far behind her peers. She has received yrs of therapy to not seem to improve all that much. Being in the middle of the spectrum though she is able to learn with allot of repetition and I believe understand communication.
    For me personally I have learned that being a special needs parent takes patients, love, and a deep understanding of your child. Noel being non verbal has gotten me to learn her body language and when she has had enough of a situation. In addition to learning when she has had enough of a situation I also had to learn what will calm her down. I have learned extreme patients with my child as well there are things that she just cant do because she has autism and sometimes when I get to the point of frustration with her I have to remind myself of that fact. You can look into her eyes and see she doesnt understand what you are trying to teach her and all you want to do is reach through. It has taken extreme patients to say we will try again tomorrow. Noel having special needs also has helped me not to take her for granted she was taught how to drink from a straw. Most children don't have to go through therapy to learn this but mine did. When she finally after months and months of therapy drank from a straw herself it was the best thing in the world to me. So I have also learned to appreciate the small things in life thanks to my daughter.
    I am also very fortunate to get to spend time with and have a great family that supports her with lots of love. Currently Noel is 4 and attends PPCD which is in Texas a special needs preschool within the public school system. This has helped her with becoming more socialized and learning important skills. I am currently 27 and am a full time college student getting my bachelors degree in Health Informatics. I spend most of my time either doing schoolwork or taking care of my daughter. I would not have it any other way I believe that Noel spending time with me is important to helping her learn life skills.
    To answer the question what its like to raise a child that is special needs is a hard one to answer. I have seen normal children that throw temper tantrums in the middle of the mall where all I could think is I am lucky to not have to deal with that. I don't think raising a child with special needs is anything to be looked upon with pity. I think that parents of special needs children have a different set of challenges to face than normal parents.
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