Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guest Post: Why me?

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to one of my local friends, who also happens to be a fellow autism mom. She does some great work in the special needs community. I appreciate her personally because of her generous spirit. She has been willing to share some of her time and expertise with me in order to help my nonprofit get off to a good start, which I am very grateful for.

Jennifer does not yet have a blog, and to be honest, I'm trying to convince her to start one! She likes to write (and is really good at it!), so publishing content online seems like a natural fit for her.

I feel fortunate to have her share her very first written piece with us here at Caffeinated Autism Mom. Once she gets past the nerves of having a post "out there" in the big blogosphere, I have a feeling that many more posts will soon follow. When she becomes well-known online, I can be like a proud mother hen and say that I knew her before she started blogging!
Jennifer's son, Zachary

As the Communications Manager for Dynamic Partners, California-native Jennifer O’Neal uses her writing skills to raise money so that other families can receive the same life-changing services her son did. She is also a Board Member at Academy Schools. Jennifer lives in Seattle with her husband, Dave, her effervescent 8-year old son and muse, Zachary, their two dogs, Maggy and Honey Bear, and sassy cat, Stetson.  You can reach her via email at jroneal at comcast dot net or on Twitter at @Jennifer_ONeal.

Please join me in extending a warm (and caffeinated) welcome to Jennifer! After you're done reading, I hope you will take a moment and leave her a comment below. Let's show her some love, peeps. :-) 

"Why me?"

We’ve all asked this.  “Why does my child have special needs?”  Although we may be outwardly hopeful, somewhere there is a corner of our minds where this question lives.  We might have thought it only happens to other people.  We may have believed we had cosmic exception; a guarantee that our children would be ‘typical.’ There is guilt. There is blame.  There are moments when we feel powerless. 

But are we?

Maybe, just maybe, these children are gifted to us because, with the right catalyst, we are people who will take action. 

Some of our actions will be large.  We will lobby insurance.  We will speak at the state capitol.  We will volunteer.  We will choose a new career path so we may help others.  We will create services and support groups to help our peers.  We will advocate change.

Some of our actions will be quiet.  We will help another parent find services.  We will comfort.  We will be that late night phone call.  We will believe in possibility, not limitation.  Some of us are just realizing our potential for action, but we will get there.  Collectively, we will move the needle towards a better life for the children entrusted to us. 

Some days are hard and that is okay.  Some days we have errant thoughts about typical children and the road not taken.  And a tear falls.  And that is okay too.  But we know that, every day, our children give us the opportunity to be a better person than we were the day before.

Above all, we are grateful for our champions; the people, services, and programs that have empowered us as families.  We have been championed by those we may never meet; the generous people who give time, money, and resources so that services can be expanded, therapy centers can be built, and more families can be served. 

To show this, we will engage our family, friends, and community members to help more children with special needs.  We ask you now to join us, take action and become someone’s champion.    

Perhaps the question should be:

“Why not me?” 

- Jennifer O'Neal

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