My dear friend, Julie, approached me in the winter to ask if I would be willing to present on the topic of developmental diagnoses for one of her psychology classes at Goshen College. Delighted, I eagerly accepted the invitation and prepared a talk centered around a recent video that our friend, Brian Sapp, created about our family’s journey with Sarah.
Sarah came with me that day and was watched by Julie’s mom, Grace, during the presentation. After showing the students the 11-minute video, I spoke at length about specific ways the brain and body are delayed in development for both Sensory Processing Disorder and Apert Syndrome. It was the first time I realized that college students probably weren’t interested in this subject, just as I wasn’t ten years ago.
Oh, how ten years can make a difference in one’s life!
I pondered what it was like when I was sitting in that seat as an older adolescent. During my Child and Adolescent Psychology class, I mentally checked out, because, well, it was boring and entirely irrelevant to my life. Oh, how naive I was! I kept that in mind as I addressed these young adults, telling them – not to invoke fear, but out of truth – that they do not know what will be in store for them as parents. Parenting is tough no matter what children you have, but it’s one of those aspects of life that softens the edges of one’s heart while also forging the courage, strength, and perseverance necessary to overcome whatever challenges ensue.
Sarah made a grand appearance at the end of the forty-minute talk, cheerfully walking around the room, greeting people with her usual glee and sincerity. For some reason, saying “hi” never gets old for Sarah. It’s as if every “hello” were as fresh as spring’s first daffodil.
As a mom and new special needs advocate, I realize that none of what I am asked to do is about me at all. None. Though I have a vested interest and passion for what I present, it’s really about the message of humanity’s dignity, the fact that we are precious and valuable simply because we exist.
I thought I knew what that meant when I was an impressionable college student, but I really had no clue until I became a parent. People really matter – every life, every person, no matter what. And now I have to educate others about that truth, which I will do gladly, until most catch on that one’s life isn’t based on “quality of living” or appearances, but instead around the dignity of their existence.
They are beloved, because they are. They – and all of us – are precious gems in God’s eyes.
Text Copyright 2016 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2015 “Books” by tookapic on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.