Someone once said, referring to the experience of having children with special needs: “When he was just born I didn’t know what to do with him, now I wouldn’t know what to do without him.” This phrase describes the feeling of being surprised by life when your child is born or diagnosed with special needs. Suddenly you find yourself in a place where you never expected to be, where you would probably never have chosen to be. While in your arms, you are holding the most sacred and incredible miracle of the world, your own child, your feelings get confused. Because besides the unconditional love you feel for this little piece of you, he or she may look and act very differently than you had expected.
As a parent, these things are hard to say because you don’t want to betray the love for your child. You don’t want your child to ever imagine that you once doubted his love or his possibilities; even though, it’s a reality that the majority of parents in this situation face similar feelings and have similar questions. We think: “What do I do now? Am I going to be a good parent for him or her? Is there something I can do to change this reality?”
That’s the beginning of the story, but eventually, we all grow. Our children with disabilities grow and along with them, we grow and evolve as parents and as human beings. Having a child with special needs doesn’t necessarily make you a better person, but it truly humbles you and brings you back to reality, a reality that not everyone lives in or understands completely.
When my children were born and diagnosed with Down syndrome, all that I knew was that I loved them and that I was going to do everything in my power to make them happy. My first intention as a parent was to make them happy, and in a way, many times I thought that to make them happy, I didn’t need to have high expectations.
But we kept growing and eventually, I realized that, yes, high expectations were necessary to make them not only happy but also capable, independent, and proud to be who they are. And that’s how everything started. From expecting nothing and being grateful for everything, I started to see opportunities. I started to believe that there was much more out there for them than what they already had. I started asking questions and dreaming along with them. I overcame my own prejudices and insecurities, and only then was I able to realize that the sky is the limit for any person, including those with special needs.
Wonderful things have happened to us over these last 12 years. We have grown, we have evolved, and we have helped others realize that they can do it too. Everything in our lives is the result of pure and true love. Everything good is the manifestation of true faith and dedication, but it hasn’t been and will never be easy all the time. In reality, I’m aware that we’ll have challenges to face forever. It’s exciting, though, to feel like part of the change in this world, and to not to give up without doing our best.
As an individual and as the parent of Emir and Ayelén, my mission is to promote natural inclusion of people with disabilities. I am proud to demonstrate by example that it really can work, though it’s not an easy path and it’s a draining work that never ends. I promise it’s worth it.
In our process of growth and evolution as a family, we have been blessed by the priceless support of those who believe in us, and that’s the case of the We All Grow Summit, which sponsored by YouTube gave me the opportunity to present my story and share my dreams and hopes of a more inclusive world where everyone has the right to belong.
Thanks We All Grow Summit and YouTube for this unforgettable experience! And thanks to these amazing ladies, who presented their own stories and are changing the world with their own missions and passion.