Parenting a child with special needs can be equally terrifying and terrific.
Lucia Arreaga is a Bowen Island resident and the mother to a brilliant, boisterous six-year-old girl named Maya. Maya has ADCY5-related dyskinesia — an incredibly rare genetic disorder that causes uncontrolled movements and greatly affects Maya's mobility.
Yes, she needs a great deal of assistance from her family, friends, and community, but her family is very conscious of the fact that while Maya does face many challenges, part of what will ultimately help Maya is knowing when to take a step back.
"It's that fine line of staying close but not too close", said Arreaga. "Give her that opportunity to prove to herself that she can do it."
Parents and guardians just want their children to be seen as people first—regardless of any special needs they might have—and that they are more than their disabilities. They want people to understand just how lucky they are to have these children in their lives.
"She's been my teacher. She's taught me to be a better person, " said Arreaga.
Maya's father, John Arreaga, has the same praise for her: "She's an incredible, incredible human being. She has changed so many people's perceptions in life."
All too often, we view people with special needs and disabilities by what they can't do, instead of celebrating all that they are capable of and capable of becoming.
Young kids are often most open to children with disabilities, but somewhere along the line to adulthood, we forget that natural acceptance and focus too much on what people are lacking.
As parents, we need to work hard to instill and keep this kindness and openness in our children. This will only continue to make a more inclusive community for everyone, which ultimately benefits those with disabilities and those without.
Image credit: Photo by iStock