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Karen Wang
BY Karen Wang

A Special Needs Thanksgiving: 15 Things I Am Thankful For

As part of his history lesson about the Thanksgiving holiday, my kindergartener’s homework was to make a list of 10 things for which he is thankful.  This is what he wrote:

  1.  TV
  2. Books
  3. Food
  4. Bears
  5. DVDs
  6. Pets
  7. House
  8. Toys
  9. Family
  10. Love

Holidays Are Tough

Holidays can be tough for some families of children with special needs.  Large family gatherings may not be possible when a child has difficulty with sensory integration or food allergies or complicated medical equipment.  The absence of family support or feelings of exclusion can be very painful.  Celebrations may be limited due to medical or therapy expenses.  Parents may feel burned out, unable to put energy into holiday preparations.

Cherish What You Have

That’s when it’s time to dig deep, think about the things we do have, and develop a sense of gratitude.  Here are some ideas to get you started on your own gratitude list for special needs.

1. I’m thankful for my son’s emergency medical plan, because I knew exactly what to do when we had a real emergency last month.

2. I’m thankful for the army of teachers, therapists, doctors, psychologists, coaches and Friendship Circle volunteers who help my son.

3. I’m thankful for free museums and botanical gardens, because we always have a beautiful place to visit on rainy days.

4. I’m thankful for the random stranger I met 2 years ago who said, “You’re doing everything right for your son.”

5. I’m thankful for my son’s patience with me when he says, “Mommy, I’m praying for you so that you will be less irritable.”

6. I’m thankful for my husband’s work ethic and self-sacrifice, because we’d be lost without him.

7. I’m thankful for the little girl with red hair who came running down the street during Autism Awareness Month to take a picture of the sign in our front yard: “We Love Someone With Autism.”

8. I’m thankful for the friend who called me today.

9. I’m thankful every time I step outside into fresh air.

10. I’m thankful that I’m strong enough to lift and carry a 45 pound child on my shoulders for extended periods of time.

11. I’m thankful that the most popular reward my children request is “special time with Mom and Dad.”

12. I’m thankful that my 11 year old son wants to learn new skills – last weekend he swam by himself for a few strokes and last night he wrote a poem.

13. I’m thankful for electricity to keep my furnace and dishwasher running.

14. I’m thankful for quiet time in the house after the kids are in bed.

15. I’m thankful for the opportunity to love.

What are you feeling thankful for this week?  Please share in the comments below.

Karen Wang

Written on November 21, 2012 by:

Karen Wang is a Friendship Circle parent. You may have seen her sneaking into the volunteer lounge for ice cream or being pushed into the cheese pit by laughing children. She is a contributing author to the anthology "My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities"