As the parent of a child with special needs you soon develop what I like to call, super sidekick powers. Like the sidekick of Superman, if he had one, you must learn to be stealthy in public to protect his identity. Be there with a tissue after he uses his laser vision to open a safe where people were trapped.

Through my daughter Dawn I learned to read minds. She has complete and total comprehension of what is going on around her and what is being said, for the most part. What she has the most difficulty with is finding the right word when she needs them to express herself. This includes identifying feelings, pain and objects.

For example, when she says mayonnaise I know she means mustard, unless she says ‘mayonnaise only’ then it really is mayonnaise. She only has to say to me, “that girl with her hand…” and I know that she is talking about a two year old in a hotel we were in who got her tiny hand caught in the elevator door and I was able to retrieve ice from the machine to help her mom soothe her.

I know the entire story of Dawn’s life so if she is able to get out the smallest of details I can fill in the blanks so that she feels she has accomplished a feat, communication.  

Sometimes I will stall, by saying, “Oh, I can’t remember, tell me more.” And by the time she gets a few more details out she’s told the story herself.

I shield her from ridicule because I know just how cruel people can be. A girl in our neighborhood made a comment to Dawn once, she said, “my mom says you’re one of those SSI kids. So, what’s wrong with you?” Dawn replied quizzically, “Nothing, what’s wrong with you?”

Those things will happen, but as a sidekick I must always be diligent in my observations so as to be there to interpret the sometimes, nasty language of humans.

Some say that I shield her too much, well to that I say, “this world will reek havoc on her life soon enough while I’m her sidekick it’ll have to go through me first.”  Wouldn’t you want that from your sidekick?

Kids with special needs need a village. Sometimes we sidekick moms feel isolated and forgotten. We should more than anything, be open and honest about our powers. We need to share with each other, the hardships and difficulties we have in common and those we may be terrified to admit to. It’s through this camaraderie that we are able to replenish  our own powers and there by be the best sidekick ever to our superhero.

Plaid for Women is a good source to start with. Go online and find other sidekicks and super moms and create a village and learn to be stronger, happier and who knows you may even develop new powers. Marie Valden,

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