Why I'm Happy I Have a Most parents would be frustrated if they got a phone call from their child's teacher saying that their kid is chatty. Well, that's not the case for me.
This morning, my son's teacher called me for a different reason, but while talking and sharing about his development, she shared with me a funny anecdote: for the first time in their time together, she had to ask my son Emir, to be quiet.
It doesn't seem to be a big deal for a typical 9-year-old student, but in Emir's case it means the world to me.
Emir has Down syndrome, and when he was around two years old, a second diagnosis was suggested, autism spectrum. He didn't interact at all with people other than a couple of relatives that he really loved. He used to avoid eye contact, and had many common signs of autism, like sensory issues and a total lack of communication.
When that was suggested, I didn't say anything, but I thought that even with a dual diagnosis, things would not change for us, as he was already under an individualized developmental plan that included all the services he needed.
He grew up in a bilingual family, so he also had to struggle with growing up bilingual. Learning Spanish at home, and English when he started school. His communication was as poor as his language development. However, I always knew what he wanted or what he needed.
Love doesn't give up.
The last two years, Emir has been included in a typical classroom at school. His periods of inclusion have been gradually increased. During the first months, I doubted if this was the right decision for him, but love doesn't give up. I've learned that from him.
The last couple of months, Emir has started to show great progress when interacting with other kids in public areas. He plays with them, talks, laughs at their jokes, and has a great sense of style at the time of choosing his clothes. "No need to help, Mom" is what he always tells me.
Every day he comes back from school with tons of stories, and while listening to his broken words, I feel proud of how much we have grown together during the last 9 years. There were so many things that I didn't know, and many that I still don't know yet, but something that I've always known is that Emir would be perfect, and would simply be Emir.
Surprisingly, Emir is becoming bilingual. He has started speaking in Spanish as well, and can do that bright switch from one language to the other. His world has bloomed and he talks about friends and about his teacher, Mrs. Hurtado. He feels included and proud of himself.
I'm proud as well and grateful to see he has found an exceptional teacher who supports him and great classmates who see him as another classmate and celebrate him.
Almost 10 years ago, when I was told about his condition, I would never have expected to have a chatty child at home or find joy in the task of raising a child with Down syndrome, but I am happy. Happier than I could have ever imagined.
-By Eliana Tardio
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