EIPLP Parent Perspective
By Marisa Schild, Early Intervention Parent Leadership Project (reprinted with permission)
As I walked into the Federation for Children with Special Needs Visions of Community Conference (which is ‘A Conference for Families of Children with Special Needs and the Professionals Who Serve Them’), I began chatting with a woman. We checked in and wandered around, looking at all the vendors. Our conversation began on the light side, we were both educators and mothers. We discussed classroom sizes and homework volume before we dug deeper and talked about our children. Then, more specifically, our children with special needs.
A group of my co-workers had saved me a seat for the greeting and keynote speaker so I invited her to sit with us. We continued to discuss our children’s special education programs for a bit and then she got up for some coffee. My co-worker asked me how I knew her and I explained that we had just met while walking in. She couldn’t believe it, from her view it seemed like we had known each other for a long time.
The bond created between parents of children with special needs is truly amazing. Our children have different struggles and different diagnoses, but our lives followed similar paths. Hours of driving our children to therapy or doctor’s appointments. Hours of phone calls to insurance companies, doctors, or teachers. Hours of planning IEP meeting notes or making lists of questions to ask. Hours of worrying about our kids’ future. We talked, laughed, listened to each other’s war stories, and discovered we had a workshop together at the end of the day and we would save a seat for each other. I love gaining insight while listening to great presenters and hearing inspirational stories but my very favorite part of these workshops is the connection with other families like my own. Feeling like you aren’t the only one living this amazing but stressful life. I am always very thankful for moments like these and the conferences that allow them to happen.