One pleasure of being a blogger is receiving emails from readers. Although I don’t always respond, I do read each and every one. A month ago I received this heart-tugging email from Pamela, to which I have been pondering how to respond ever since:
I was thrilled to come across your website tonight! I know you’re probably a busy woman, but I was wondering if I could ask you a question. I know a family with a beautiful 8 year old daughter who has severe spastic CP. Right now she’s really struggling with self confidence, realizing how beautiful she is, and with not being able to verbalize her thoughts. To make it worse, despite how very much she is loved, no one can truly understand what she is going through. I’m sure you get this kind of request often, but I was wondering what words of wisdom you could give us? I read Jana’s post of August 29/07 and the advice you gave her on parenting children with special needs. I was wondering what kind of encouraging words you would offer to M herself?
(My first thought: Damn cerebral palsy for making yet another precious child feel this way!)
Pamela, thank you for your touching email. I fully appreciate M’s frustration in her inability to voice her thoughts and needs, and no doubt her family’s frustration at not knowing what their daughter is thinking and wanting.
Finding a way for M to communicate effectively, no matter the method, is crucial for her life. I would suggest working with M’s current abilities and going from there. It may mean using a word board, developing a picture/symbol board, typing with her toe or whatever. It may not be something the professionals have considered or approve of. (They strongly discouraged me from typing with my left thumb back in Grade 1. Little did they know I was meant to become the Left Thumb Blogger!) Keep trying different things until something clicks. This will entail ample creativity, ingenuity and patience, with M leading the way.
Regarding boosting her self-confidence, be sure to praise and acknowledge her for her efforts, no matter the result. Keep photos of her in places of honour, alongside photos of her siblings, cousins and friends swinging the baseball bat or dancing at their first recital. And, of course, continue reminding her she is loved and valued.
With support and caring from you, her family, friends and teachers, M will reach her full potential and beyond!
You are a precious gift. Your outer body – the part everyone sees – is the wrapping paper – the part of the gift that is often put aside. The actual gift lies deep within you and is more precious, more beautiful than the wrapping paper.
Your eyes and your smile provide people with a peek at the gift within. Give the people you meet a big peek at your gift by flashing them a great big smile and showing them your beautiful eyes.
I understand how frustrating it is not being able to say what you are thinking and feeling. I have no doubt you have much going on in that beautiful head of yours. The challenge is to find a way to communicate it. There are more ways to communicate than by speaking. I’m sure with help from your family, teachers and therapists, you will find a way to communicate your thoughts. Keep trying and working hard and you will find a way for your voice to be heard.
You are a beautiful young lady, M. Wishing you every success.
With much love,
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