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What does “Special Needs” mean anyway?

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What does “Special Needs” mean anyway?

We have a home-visit nurse who comes every week to weigh the baby and ask ridiculous questions about the baby’s development in other areas, to ensure that even though Lioness is little, she isn’t in the “failure to thrive” category.

Our first check-up (at 2 months old) went like this:
Nurse: Does she babble? Does she coo?
Me: She makes noise. It’s mostly squeaks. What’s the difference between babble and coo?
Nurse: Well coo is more like…um…good question. Moving on, when you talk to her, does she talk back?
Me: I’d rather she not talk back until she’s at least 2 years old.

Recently our nurse told me about a meet-up of the local “special needs families.” I was confused for a moment. Are you saying we are special needs? To me “special needs” is severe mental issues or being in a wheel chair. But my sister was in a wheel chair, and she wasn’t “special needs.” She was just a normal person who happened to be in a wheel chair. Although we did have the handicap parking sign in our car, so maybe she did qualify as “special needs.”

Now that I think about it, there was a family in Idaho who wanted to adopt a baby from China. There was a really long wait list, unless they were willing to take a “special needs” child. Upon realizing that “special needs” meant just cleft palate, they said, “sure” and adopted a cute little girl.

It’s just cleft palate. No big deal. That’s a fairly “normal” problem most people have heard of, although they think “cleft palate” means “cleft lip.” Not always, sometimes it’s just cleft palate that no one can see, (unless the baby yawns and you look straight in her mouth).

IMG_0284When Lioness was 8 days old, we were released from the NICU and headed home from Portland. Our first stop was Chipotle. We had just finished eating when a lady rolled up in her wheelchair to admire the baby. She happened to have worked as a speech therapist specializing in cleft palate. She said “you’ve got a long road ahead of you.” I shared how we expected so much worse than just cleft pallet. We didn’t know if she would be able to breath, but she came out screaming! Ariasha is our little miracle baby! The lady offered to pray for our family right there at our table in chipotle!

Considering that she knows what she’s talking about, she could be right, maybe we do have a “long road ahead of us.” As a matter of fact, we have our second appointment with the Early Intervention Speech Therapy lady this week. It feels a bit unnecessary for a 4 month old, but I guess it’s just part of the “long road ahead of us.”

Becky is wife to Duane, mama to "Monkey-girl" and baby "Lioness" aka "PipSqueek." She is the administrative powerhouse for YWAM Bend and keeps our team grounded and organized. Her hope is to inspire and encourage other mamas in their journey to raise healthy, thriving families.
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