Friday, November 13, 2009

My son's riches

I call them angels.

Exceptional people who have been drawn to work with my son Ben and who have surpassed all expectations.

There’s a long line of workers. ‘Worker’ is a misnomer and inadequate to describe those who have been teachers, visionaries, therapists and coaches in their own right.

There was Kathleen, a bouncy, bubbly young woman who spent six years with Ben – transforming herself into a speech therapy, technology, sign language, literacy and inclusion expert. Kathleen accompanied us on our trips to the U.S. to see specialists and was Ben’s special needs ‘assistant’ (another misnomer) at school. Kathleen thought the world of Ben, and we thought the world of her. She went back to university to become what she had always been – a teacher.

There was Coco, a blind-deaf intervener who became our sign-language instructor and went into Ben’s school to teach the other kids sign because the school board would not. Over the years, Coco became a loved member of our family and our children’s legal guardian. Last summer, she returned from her new home in the Dominican Republic to take Ben to his first overnight camp (see photo above), a true breakthrough.

There was John, a brilliant math professor who volunteered to do math with Ben. John had written a book about making math accessible to all children. He taught Ben fractions and Ben wanted to work for him. Nothing made me happier than telling Ben: “The math professor says you’re smart.”

And the list goes on.

Whenever I am feeling down about Ben’s challenges or lack of friends, I think about how one boy was able to attract these human jewels, like a magnet, and make them shine.

Who are the angels in your child’s life?


I was recently thinking and writing about this very thing...The extraordinary people who have crossed our path or taken many steps on our journey since our son has been born. Giving thanks seems not enough.

Your post is beautiful, and so is Ben.

I think I wrote a blog post called the persistence of angels a while back -- I'll have to go search for it! I loved this post and loved seeing your son with one of his angels. Wonderful.

There are two sisters that have cared for Katie for the past six years, on and off. They rock, Monique and Colette. Monique started caring for Katie at her worst and she kept coming back. Then she brought her sister along. This past summer we met another young woman, Katelyn, who also rocks. Without these women in our lives, in Katie's life, we couldn't survive. I'm thankful for them.

Lianna -- thanks so much for posting. I was on your site and enjoyed seeing the video clips of Gabe. It's interesting that we have similar insights about our journeys with our kids! There's a beautiful guest blog on the NY Times motherlode blog by David Sexton right now, about struggling with telling others about your child's diagnosis. He weaves in John Donne's "No man is an island" and how sharing our challenges can lead others to reveal vulnerabilities and offer support that they might not have otherwise. Look forward to hearing more about your boy!

Elizabeth -- I'll have to check out your angel post. Thanks for writing!

Deb -- great to hear about the three rocking young women that make a difference in Katie's life. It would be neat to have some kind of regular column where we recognized people like this and profiled them with a Who, What, Where, When, Why. Thanks for sharing!

Anthony, Michelle and Karen are the therapists that work with my son every week. He loves them so much he literally jumps out of our arms when they come in the door. It makes the house feel more full of life to have them here. Sometimes I feel they've become extended family.

Our friends Elizabeth, Nick, Kelly, Heather and Lisa are the angels that watch over us too and every day they spend time with my children is a better day.


Hi David -- Thanks for sharing. They must be exceptional therapists to elicit that kind of reaction in your boy.

Cheers! Louise

Good hearted people can make the world of difference, it shows in your boy... Bless them and bless both of you.

Thank you for your kind words Silindile! I went to your site and was so moved by your story and the family and friends that have supported you in your recovery. Best wishes to you and look forward to hearing more about your journey, Louise

Some stories grab you and touch you, some picture tear right into your heart and stay there.. Since I read this story this little boy has been in my heart and I just wanted to see if there's anything nearly written. Stay well little soldier

Very nice post Louise. I am all for honouring these very special helpers. Thank you for honouring Ben's special "gems" and encouraging other parents to honour theirs.

I love your journal, even though I no longer have a child with special needs. I look forward to reading it each month.
Thank you.