ALRES Philippines


Reaching the Top

Reaching the Top

Reaching for our dreams entails hard work, as we have been taught time and time again. If we work hard enough, we will achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. Perseverance, persistence and motivation are important if we want to succeed. There are times, however, when not even our greatest efforts produce the results we expect. We fall, we fail, we lose our momentum and at times, give up. We never reach the top thinking that we have already tried, but still did not quite make it. Is this the end of our dream or just the beginning?

Falling can be in the form of shattered realities. Truths that are forced upon us by our circumstances, not exactly by choice. The birth of a child with special needs can be devastating. Every parent dreams of the “perfect” child – healthy, uncomplicated, complete. Rarely are parents prepared for the reality of a disability in the family and its implications to the present, as well as the future. Just a few weeks ago, I met a young couple with a seven week-old infant for physiotherapy early intervention assessment. The baby was born prematurely and had several holes in her tiny heart that required surgery. Her case is similar to many other babies with Down Syndrome, a genetic condition wherein instead of 46 chromosomes, the baby has 47 chromosomes. This results to an array of medical and developmental complications that may derail any parent’s journey to the top. “Where do I go now? What do I do? I know that parenting is not easy, but this is way too challenging and complicated. Where do I start? What now is my goal?”

The top may start to blur for some, the way to get there even hazier, overcast at certain points. It is overwhelming to deal with the initial diagnosis and the unknown outcomes of living with Down Syndrome. Yet in the 23 years I’ve been journeying with families, I have been inspired by the outstanding ability of families to overcome their personal situations and even go over the top! Some have spearheaded non-profit organizations to increase awareness, acceptance and further inclusion for children and adults with Down Syndrome. Better yet, with hearts bursting with purpose, they’ve expanded their cause to include even children with autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and all other children with disabilities. Their advocacies have changed mindsets and opened doors of opportunity especially for the marginalized. Gratitude fuels their actions, mindful of how much they have, instead of what they lack. Their love spills over countless times to many other children, and their life purpose changed forever.

Reaching the top may seem like a personal journey. In raising a child with a special need, it is also a collective one along with people who have the same vision for our children. They are “our children” too. They inspire us with their indomitable spirit, their courage and resilience, steadfast faith in the Divine and in the goodness of others, and refreshing simplicity at a time of complex realities. Many times it would seem like we’re just scaling the wall and not gaining any progress getting to our destination. Yet when we stop and reflect on how far we’ve gone, we realize we’re far from rock bottom and much closer to the top, that’s if the top remains where it is.

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