Broadman & Holman
If you’ve picked up this book, more than likely you love a child who has special needs. The awesome reality is that long before this child was born, God chose you to be a part of this child’s life. Yes, God chose you with your talents, abilities, temperament, and inadequacies—knowing that you were perfect for the job.
At times we’re sure you feel overwhelmed by the task before you and the questions that go unanswered. How does a mom respond to her three-year-old blind son when he asks, “But Mom, what does the color red look like?” What does a grandmother say to her ten-year-old granddaughter when she doesn’t get asked to a slumber party because of the fear and added responsibility of inviting a child with juvenile diabetes? How does a teacher feel when she overhears a conversation indicating that her student was not picked for the team due to his unpredictable asthma? How does a father respond to his wheelchair-bound daughter who nightly waits by the phone anticipating an invitation to the winter formal—an invitation that never comes? How do you handle the day-by-day struggles, watching your child with special needs as he or she tries to fit into a typical world?
Parenting is challenging for most people. However, dealing with a handicapping condition, a chronic illness, or an emotional or social disability in a child presents an uphill challenge every day. Recent statistics show that more than 20 million families in the United States have a child with special needs—that’s nearly one in three families.
For parents of these “special” kids, their worries go beyond grades, braces, and sports. Their worries begin at daybreak when they wonder if their child will be able to attend school that day. From praying that their child will not be made fun of, to praying for the strength their child will need to live his or her life fully and not give up, the parents’ daily prayers have just begun.
After an exhausting day of answering their child’s questions -concerning the disability, managing medications, preparing proper foods, and making it to all doctor appointments, these parents truly need the comfort of sitting down, putting their feet up, and reading _A Special Kind of Love: For Those Who Love Children with Special Needs.
This book is written for moms, dads, grandparents, foster parents, and extended families who live with “special” children on a day-by-day basis. The book is also designed for teachers, doctors, social workers, friends of the family, and pastors who work with these children. Through this book, families of children with special needs will meet other families who have been there, identify with their struggles, and read of their victories along the way.
In 1990 Janet Mitchell gave birth to a premature baby boy. Six weeks later her six-year-old daughter was admitted to the hospital, diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Janet’s two children were discharged the same day—one hooked up to a heart monitor and the other carrying a bag of tricks, insulin shots included. Awaiting her at home was an active four-year-old son.
Janet says, “When I was faced with my children’s special needs, _I felt paralyzed with fear. The calm, spur-of-the-moment lifestyle that my husband, Marty, and I had grown to appreciate was gone. The list of what I could do to fix the situation was short. I could not heal my children. I could not take away their pain or spare them the struggles of being different. I could not pretend that their problems did not exist.
“I did, however, find that I had some choices that only I could make. I had the choice of deciding what type of mother my children were to have. I could choose what type of home my children would experience and what people would influence their lives. And I discovered that I had the awesome privilege of teaching my children how to live.”
In 1992 Susan married Dick Osborn. During their courtship, Dick’s twenty-six-year-old mentally challenged son called Susan and said, “When you marry my dad, will you be my mom?” Susan immediately answered, “Yes!” Then Rick asked, “Won’t you be my mom now? _I don’t want to have to wait until next August.”
Susan has emotionally supported Rick through his marriage to Christina, who is also mentally challenged. Susan and Dick have _mentored them both through the births of their two sons, Steven and Daniel, and the resulting overwhelming circumstances.
Susan says, “I love being Rick’s mom! Even though Rick is now an adult who has chosen to live on his own, I accept phone calls from him on my toll-free number anytime day or night. I continually make time to listen to his latest concern or share in his joy. I realize that all his life Rick will mentally be a child, so he will always need me.”
Susan is the grandmother of ten grandchildren. She has a thirteen-year-old granddaughter who is conquering a reading disability and an eleven-year-old granddaughter who has overcome a speech impediment. She is also grandma to Rick’s two-year-old son, who is not yet talking and is showing signs of having special needs. Susan shares a close relationship with her cousin, Michelle, who in spite of her hearing impairment has become a cheerleader and has graduated from _college. Through love and hard work by Susan’s entire family, these handicapping conditions are being compensated for.
With a child who has special needs, we face challenges every day. Yet we can lean on God for our strength and anchor ourselves to him through his Word and prayer. He promises to sustain us. He also provides us with people whom he brings into our lives—friends, family members, and professionals. These “angels with skin on” will help and encourage us—whatever our situation—as we love and care for our children with special needs.
It is our prayer that through reading this book, your heart will be lifted and your journey made lighter since you will know you are not alone. May God sustain you and bless you.
Yours in him,
Susan Titus Osborn and Janet Lynn Mitchell