What special needs families taught me about comfort zones

by  Chery Gegelman  |  Self Leadership

Einstein once said, “Any fool can know, the point is to understand.”

Historically, I knew we should care for special needs families ~ thankfully a series of events over the past four years has turned that seed of knowledge into a growingunderstanding of the challenges, the joys, and the deep lessons that come from engaging with special needs families.

Below is a quick peek into that journey. To read more just follow the link at the end of this post.

A few years ago my sister adopted a 3-year old little boy that was born addicted to meth.  He had been in and out of foster homes, diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, had abandonment issues, and could not speak.

That sister lives in another state and I don’t get to see her often.  When we spoke about her new son’s challenges, the challenges the family faced, (especially during the transition from being a family of 4 to becoming a family of 5) and in the midst of everything, how precious the sweet moments were and how extraordinary his progress was, I found myself wanting to I understand more.

Shortly after the adoption, I moved to a new city and met a family with an adult daughter with cognitive challenges.

It was at that time that I realized that although I was always mentally supportive of families and children with special needs and nice to them, I was also uncomfortable simply because I did not know how to fully engage with them.  Was it okay to ask questions?  Or would that be offensive?  What behavior did you need to accept and love and what behavior should you coach and correct?

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About The Author

Articles By chery-gegelman
Chery Gegelman was once a frustrated visionary that learned to lead extensive system-wide changes from the middle. Today she is The Founder of Giana Consulting, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two books. Her passion is bringing help and understanding to people and organizations that are leading through change to growth.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Janice Scott  |  29 Apr 2013  |  Reply

Thank you Chery for your clear-eyed view of families with special needs. I have been blessed to work with children with disabilities and their care givers for the past 26 years. The friends I have made in this community are ordinary people taking on extraordinary challenges. They can be as happy or sad, or as snarky or polite as the rest of us. I find they give me as much support as I can ever give them.

It took me a long time to realize I could ask questions without offending them. I also learned I can and should ask about their own adult dreams, goals and ambitions.

Thanks again for your post. I’m sharing with my friends.

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