Being a parent of a special needs child carries such a mixed bag of emotions, responsibilities, judgements, disappointments, expectations, just to mention a few. An acquaintance once remarked that I had "such a cross to bear". I would never have termed it so and I responded that until you have the experience of having a child with challenges, you have no idea of the blessings they bring to a family.
Each member of my family has been influenced to some degree by Jessica, of this I am sure. And because Koosh and I have tried to be as positive as our capabilities allowed, I believe the influences have been for the most part, very positive.
My niece, Kathy, was acquiring a degree in Education and when she was in a class that encompassed behavior management, she aced it because of the summer she had spent assisting me with Jess' programs. In our many visits with Jess' cousins, they displayed such patience and empathy to include her as much as possible in their activities, short of that, they were always talking to her and giving her attention.
Even when she attended school, I was taken aside by one of her teachers one day who told me the following: "As a teacher of this class I was not looking forward to a certain little boy beginning the year with me. For the past 4 years, he has been extremely difficult in all his classes and I feared for my turn with him. But I must tell you, he has taken a shine to your Jessica. I have never seen him so caring and gentle with any other student. I have been able to overcome my preconceived notions on this student because Jessica has brought out this side of him that I have never seen before. I will never prejudge any student again. Any child, given the opportunity, can reveal wonderful things about themselves. I feel blessed to have Jess in my class."
I can not tell you how this made me feel. Very few people "get it". People like Jess come to us to teach us something we would normally not be taught. We need to embrace the wisdom that comes from such a relationship. Jessica is a gift and I am sure anyone reading this knows of a Jessica in their lives that had they not had the interaction, they would not be the person they are today.
Communicating with Jessica reached a whole new level. It was beyond words. It encompassed body language, gestures, feelings and intuition. More on that to come...