Many parents of special needs kids talk about how they need people to be supportive of their situation. I find that especially true since I am a parent of a child with the dual diagnoses of bipolar disorder and autism. Having a child with these invisible disabilities, ones where a child looks like a normal child, but responds to her world very differently from most, can be very isolating. I’m happy to say that I have found a person who is not related to me by blood, but who has embraced my family as her own.
This afternoon I was at my best friend’s house sitting around her kitchen table chatting with other moms. Eventually the topic of children came up. One thing led to another and I found myself telling the other moms our story. One mom in particular wanted to know how my daughter was diagnosed. She also wanted to know what were the signs that something was amiss. Before I could even speak up, my best friend spoke and explained things so eloquently. She told of my daughter’s sensory issues and mood swings. Another mom who has met my child uttered the famous “But she doesn’t look autistic!” line. My wonderful friend rose to the occasion and replied, “That’s just it, you might see a child like Princess in the store and think, ‘Boy, that child is a brat!’” She went on to explain how everyone needs to be more accepting of children like Princess. People need to show kindness not judgment.
As the conversation progressed, and I shared more of our story, I couldn’t help but be grateful that my best friend truly “gets it.” She understands the challenges my child faces on a daily basis. She knows the lengths that I have gone to to get my child the help that she needs. She even remarked, “I knew that Cate needed a friend who would stand by her side. I decided to be that friend.”
As the afternoon turned to evening, I gathered my things to head home. On the way out the door, I told my friend how much I appreciated her support. Her response solidified what a great friend she is, “If people are going to come to my house, they need to know how to support you. If not, they will not be welcome because you are my family.” That is the sign of a true friend. I may have shed a tear or two on my drive home.
My Best Friend and I