Thursday, October 13, 2011


I'm posting this late because, like so very very very many people, I've spent much of the past two days trying to upgrade all my Apple devices, staring at one little bar after another as it moved slowly across the screen. It took forever for the iOS software to download, then to go through all the various lengthy steps to upgrade my iPhone, only to ... hiccup! lose a connection at the last minute and go through a scary restore process that had me imagining all my data lost. Tried it again, tried it again, tried it again ... you know the drill. You were doing it to, right? Which is why the servers kept dumping me.

And then, of course, after finally getting the operating system on, came the repeated efforts to transfer my Mobile Me account to the cloud over the same swelled servers. And then, wait while a glitch stopped my mail from downloading, repeatedly denying a password I knew was right. Got things set up finally only to realize that to fully take advantage, there are multiple other devices that need the upgrade. And pretty soon, there goes the week.

So while I was in a constant state of upgrade-juggling when I should have been blog writing, it occurred to me that upgrading these devices is not unlike raising children with special needs. No, really, stick with me. What is the therapy and the education and the work we do but an attempt to upgrade our kids? And how often does that go smoothly, quickly, bam! expected result? More often, it's trying and trying and hoping and expecting and just when a breakthrough's in sight, some neuron doesn't connect and then you're trying again, repeating the process, hoping that finally, finally, the connection will be made.

And then, that connection requires another connection, and another, and another. Each with its lengthy, risky, fingers-crossed time of anticipation. Will we get a result that's a more fully realized version of what we had before, or will there be a crash, a fallback, a glitch that sends us scurrying to put everything back together and find another way.

Like a major software upgrade, our children's developmental milestones are exciting and satisfying and much sought-after, but never really the perfect solution we expected. There's always something that could be improved, something that's less easy to handle than advertised. And though we dread the next period of upheaval, that's always where our hope lies.

My kids, now a high-school senior and a college sophomore, are pretty state-of-the-art right now in their developmental trajectory. They're doing a lot of really, really cool things, stuff I'd never have dreamed of when they were little and I only used phones that plugged into walls. But even now, there are glitches, problems to solve, weaknesses to tweak. It's been a heck of a push getting them to versions 18.7 and 21.6. That next upgrade? Working on the features right now.


Terri Mauro blogs at Parenting Special Needs and Parenting Isn't Pretty. She has two terrific kids, a 21-year-old with learning and language disabilities and an 18-year-old with FASD, both adopted from Russia in 1994.


  1. Such a perfect metaphor Terri, brilliant.