The Special Needs Mom: Grateful

As a special needs parent we can often get caught up in the to-do lists and worries that come with parenting, but it’s important to stop and remember to be grateful for the things that are going well and do bring joy to your life. It’s really helps keep me sane and I try to do it as often as possible. One of the things I’m grateful for is this city. I feel completely blessed to be raising my children in Hoboken. This town is continuously striving to move forward in its support and inclusiveness of all people. The community of parents and professionals I've met here are unparalleled. As you may have learned from my “25 things about me” I have moved A LOT in my life. I've lived in 5 different states and about 20 different towns and I can honestly say, for the first time in my life, I love where I live.

Even in the midst of the struggles that come along with daily life, I am thankful for all the things we have here that wouldn't even be remotely possible when my daughter was first diagnosed and we were living in Delaware -- and especially when we lived in central Pennsylvania. In Hoboken, there is an outstanding company called Advanced Therapy of America. They are another reason that I am able to feel peace even when things are stressful. At ATA, my daughter receives some of the best occupational therapy out there. I am able to WALK to get her this treatment. In Delaware, when Rory was in early intervention, the system was so backed up she was never able to be assigned an occupational therapist and if I wanted to get her private therapy it was a 45 minute drive and $200 an hour. On top of that, the one place that did offer it had so many clients that they treated you like a number and it was almost like you were meeting them for the first time every week. At ATA, our therapist is a close part of our support system. She and the owners of ATA go above and beyond to make sure that Rory is able to get the treatment that she needs and that it is the best treatment possible. They also go out of their way to educate and support our community. They host seminars to help parents and other caregivers better understand their little ones.

Moving a lot also means experiencing a few different churches and each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but I’ve never had a church community that really felt like a community before. With the church we attend now, Hoboken Grace, we don't just go on Sunday and then move on with our “regular lives” throughout the week. We're able to lean on the people we see on Sunday at any time and enjoy spending time with them in every aspect of life. The friends that my husband and I have made through this community are some of the kindest, most caring people I’ve ever encountered and even though most of them don’t share the struggle of being a special needs parent, they are always there to lend an ear, a shoulder, or a prayer. This church also loves Hoboken and shows that love in real tangible ways, which is very important to me. Whether we're cleaning up trash or hosting a giant Easter egg hunt that anyone is invited to participate in, the love is palpable. That love even extends into the special needs part of my life. They've developed a program that my children can truly be a part of and enjoy. My daughter even has a “buddy” assigned to her that helps her on Sunday mornings so she can get the most out of the lesson. I couldn't be more impressed of grateful!

Places like The Inner Athlete in the Monroe center and Big Fun Toys on Washington Street have gone made extra efforts to make their business accessible to my children and others with special needs. Big Fun Toys hosts a sensory craft day that is low or no cost and so fun for the kids. The Inner Athlete has opened a special needs class that allows the kids to run, play, and socialize with their friends while it’s freezing outside. They might even learn how to kick a ball or shoot some hoops while they're at it.

I’m grateful for the time that we are blessed to live in. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for parents of children with special needs 20, 30, or 40 years ago. The increase in awareness and support from society in general over the last several years is something that I am so thankful for. I am so indebted to all those who came before me and spread knowledge and compassion about the world of special needs individuals. Thank you to every single person who has worked so hard over the years to make this world a better place for my children! We’re even seeing special needs individuals being represented in mainstream television in a positive light.

I’m sure there are many other things that I am forgetting, but one thing that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention is the support from the other parents in the HSNPG. Just knowing that there are others out there that understand what my life is like, gives me immeasurable comfort and I hope that everyone in the world, no matter what their life is like, is able to find that.

Megan is a stay at home mom of two au-some kids & the co-director of the Hoboken Special Needs Parents Group. Her daughter Aurora (4) attends the Pre-K ABA program at Wallace Elementary. Her son Clark is 2.5 and is receiving services through early intervention. Both children are extremely active and always keep Megan on her toes! She and her husband moved to Hoboken 2 years ago and were blown away by the help they received from the Hoboken School District.

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