Mindy Sue Cleveland Photographer

Mindy Sue Cleveland Photographer


Monday, July 28, 2014

Having a daughter with special needs | what our journey looks like.

I recently met a women that really touched my heart.  She sat on a bench in the shade at the park.  She only had one child to tend and was sketching a picture while he played in the sand.  I had my million children so I was all over the place.  I watched Tulie sit next to her and then over the corse of a few minutes had some of the women's sketching paper and few crayons to draw with.  I finally decided to intervene when  I saw Tulie stroking the women's hair.  The women and I talked about random things and meaningful things. She was wonderfully different from me and I enjoyed our conversation very much. 
Tulie has am IEP in school and learning comes very hard for her.  She was held back in 1st grade and will struggle her whole life with learning, she will always be behind.  Tulie struggles with children her age or shall I say children her age struggle with Tulie.  She is very kind and silly. However, her inability to understand social cues and her lack of personal space can be a problem for others I think.  Weekly I see her in social settings where she is rejected and pushed away in both indirect ways and very awful blatant ways.  Tulie is not fully aware of what is going on when these things happen but she is aware that she normally ends up alone. 
It was getting time to leave so I went to wrangle up Tulie who was crazy high up in a pine tree.  As I awaited her decent the women leaned over to me and quietly comment on what a special daughter I have.  That she hoped I was able to get her around people that accepted her talents.  People that encouraged her to be her and not who they think she should be.   In the quietest voice she reminded me of how special Tulie was and that  I had an obligation to advocate for her.  And to encourage her unique qualities.  
Boy did this open the flood gates.  And still does.  Tulie is quirky.  What the hell does that even mean?  I guess I find myself apologizing for her lack of personal space, for her lack of tact or inability to understand social cues.  I get anxious that by being herself she will push people away.  And you know what, she does.  She doe push some people away.  She does turn some people off.   But those people are not who she needs in her life.  I don't need to apologize for her.  I don't need to be embarrassed by her.  She is a beautiful daughter of God.  I adore her, and anyone that takes a moment to get to know her and understand her loves her too.  
I am so grateful to this women and for her ability to SEE Tulie.  And for her gentle words of encouragement for me and my daughter.  The wonderful power of kindness.  
Photo credit +Jenny Gildea Photography

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