When we get pregnant, special needs children are the furthest thing from anyone's mind. Yet as a 21 year old, first time parent, I was becoming familiar with words such as cerebral palsy, periventricular leukomalacia, and developmental delay. I had just given birth to a 28 week premature infant who was the size of a new born kitten. While other first time moms were basking in the glow of parenthood, I was attempting to navigate parking garages , visitors passes, sleep chairs and the NICU. This was not what I had in mind, but with the support of family and friends, my oldest son over came the odds and began to thrive! One begins to get comfortable with oxygen tanks, pulse oximeters and feeding pumps! As days progress and self reliance kicks in, many of these challenges begin to feel like normal parts of life, and life moves on.
WHEW! Disaster avoided, or so I thought! Five years into parenthood, I rolled the dice again and welcomed my second son.
While Hunter was a fairly easy pregnancy, if you don't mind bed rest due to preterm labor beginning at 9 weeks! Unlike his brother, Hunter made it to 39 weeks before making his grand entrance into the world! It took no time at all to figure out that he was not meeting the same milestones as his peers. He did not want to be touched, did not make eye contact, and gave me every impression that he despised me!
Doctors appointments and referrals led us to early intervention. We were blessed to meet teachers who not only embraced Hunter, but offered me reassurance that I was not an anomaly and Hunter was on track for a child with typical autism. Hunter started school at two and a half and is currently in the 12th grade. The road has been long, and filled with laughter, tears and many ISP's!
As any special needs parent knows as your child grows older, you will learn many acronyms and abbreviations. I promise, it will feel like you can paper your walls with clients rights and ISP's, it seems the paper never stops coming! Your child will assume, and then outgrow diagnosis and labels but the one thing that will never change is their need for your help and the support of those around you.
And therein lies the problem, who will provide this help? If you are a parent in my position, you will often hear, "Your child is too high functioning for services!" Where does this lead you? Well, often time times if you are a self led parent you will create your own resources and network with other special needs parents to form your own support systems. Thus, out of this dilemma, Hunter's Helpers was born!
We are simply special needs parents who have recognized that we don't have to wait on others to help us in areas where we can help ourselves.