Something interesting has been happening to me lately.
I guess it has something to do with the fact that we've had a year to slip into the skin of Noel's Asperger's diagnosis, and that I've become more comfortable with the idea. I've stockpiled information and don't feel quite so inundated as I did before.
Or maybe it's like when you really, really want to be (insert big life milestone here: engaged/married/pregnant/a parent) and so then you notice every single person around you who is what you really want to be. (Wait, that came out wrong, like I've aspired to special needs parenthood, but you know what I mean.)
But lately I've been meeting more and more parents of special needs children, not at special events set up for such meetings to happen, but in my regular, adult interactions. Without my kids with me. I find myself in conversations with other adults who understand. They get it. We can talk about diets and alternatives and IPPs and we can talk about those people who judge you from across a room. It is truly wonderful to not feel so alone.
So now, I feel like I really want to keep opening up those dialogues. Because sometimes, special needs parenthood feels like a dirty little secret. I wonder how many other adults I've met who are holding all this information inside but don't feel like they can share it. Because let's face it: "My son/daughter has special needs." sometimes brings conversations to a screeching halt, or worse, brings that weird uncomfortable, pity filled shifting in their seats that I would really rather skip over.
I try to insert this information in as casually as possible, blurting it out and then glossing over it. Why do I want to share it? Well, I guess I want to share it because I don't want to feel like I have to hide it. I want to participate in the 'parenting war stories' conversations but sometimes these things need a little context around them. Not every time. Not in every conversation. But lately I've been meeting other parents who are facing similar challenges in their lives and we have so much to offer each other. And if we both stay silent, how will we ever know?