5 Things Hurricane IRENE Taught Me About Life With Special Needs

We were very lucky this past weekend, when Hurricane Irene came a-knockin (literally). Trees down, power out and flooding all around us… but we were literally unscathed, thankfully.  In the process of our over-preparation, thanks to the 24-hour news channels, I had much time to ponder the whole event and how it ties in to life dealing with special needs, in general.  So here goes…

The Top 5 Things Irene Taught Me are:

1. Attitude is EVERYTHING! If you think life stinks, it does.  If you believe your cup runneth over (with blessings or curses), it will!  And if you see your child as disabled or different, he is!  Change your attitude and you can change your world!

2. Yes, Irene hit the south shore of Long Island… dead on!  Whether we call her a category 1 hurricane or a tropical storm–her winds were arguably between 40 to 80 mph at landfall here–it doesn’t change the nature of the storm that hit our beaches, knocked down trees and flooded my neighbor’s homes.  It was Irene! Likewise, no label changes the nature of My Boys… who happen to have an extra 21st chromosome (aka. Down syndrome). They are who they are and will be, no matter what the 24-hour news service or Committee for Special Education calls them.

3. Life is rough!  Or life is just life? Which is it going to be for you? Never mind futile, resistance is stressful! And, eventually, denial caves in on you. Just give in to what is. Acceptance is an easier pill to swallow and it’s a great first step to altering your reality for the better.

4. Seems some folks wanted to be able to say it was a big bad hurricane and they were either hit harder than everyone else OR they were luckier to get away unscathed from such an incredible monster.  Either way says, “please consider me ‘special.'” The former represents the woe-is-me crowd and the latter the I-am-blessed crowd. Lots of people–mostly those without children with special needs–put us parents of children with special needs in one of these categories.  I don’t want to be categorized and I certainly don’t want my kids to be categorized!  So what are we looking for?  Special… which separates our kids from the crowd?  Or, to steal the tagline from NDSS, “more alike than different”… which fosters inclusion? 

5. Think the worst–about the hurricane OR your child’s prognosis–and you’ll likely have a lousy experience… if not in reality, at least in your perception of it. Under prepare for anything in life and you will achieve or experience less than optimal results.  It’s a twist on the “you get what you train for” phenomenon. Over prepare and you’re ready for almost anything and will achieve the most optimal outcomes possible, whatever comes your way.

Yes, into each life some rain must fall.  As such, we should always hope for the best but plan for the worst.


About Maggie

I'm a stay-at-home mother of 3 children including a 15-year-old daughter, the Old Soul, and 11-year-old identical twin boys who've been blessed with an extra 21st chromosome (aka: Down Syndrome). I happily spend my time doing all that I can do -- breaking the proverbial box wide open -- to foster my children's development and then sharing what I learn with you through this blog.
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2 Responses to 5 Things Hurricane IRENE Taught Me About Life With Special Needs

  1. Deborah Neuls says:

    One of the karate Dads noticed my twin daughters and approached me. He said there was a blog I might want to read. I have three wonderful children as well my son is 7, his name is George and my twin daughters are 9, they are Jessica and Jennifer and they have Down Syndrome. I just started reading and I honestly can’t wait to read more. You have a very positive personality, I must say, there are some days I could use a little more of that.

    • Maggie says:

      Oh I’ve been hoping to hear from you Deborah. Glad you came by. I hope we’re able to get together sometime soon since you’re sooooo close by. Meanwhile, thanks for reading. Your comment is inspiration for me to get out here and write more often. As you well know, it’s not always easy!

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