My name is Angie and am a divorced Mom of a 12 year old special needs daughter. I also have amazing son who's currently in Basic Training for the US Airforce. I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I married young and had a healthy vibrant son. Two years later I had a medical set back and was diagnosed with stage 3 thyroid cancer. So while caring for a new son, I had surgery to removed two types of cancer in my thyroid and 12 lymph nodes. I received radiation treatment and have been cancer free since. That was my first real wake up call. Life is precious and short so live life to the fullest!
A few years later after my cancer "cure" and a challenging pregnancy, my daughter, Peyton was born. There was immediate challenges. She wasn't hitting any of the developmental milestones. My friends children were walking, talking, and eating normally. Nothing was going to be normal for Peyton. I knew from day one my life was going to change in a different way. I struggled with that truth. I had many sleepless nights, anxiety, depression, the never ending search for what happened, how did this happen and why me?? The struggle was real. The guilt- what did I do wrong? After many years of testing, doctors appointments and therapists, she was diagnosed with intellectual disability.
And so I had to do a bit more than the average parent. That's okay. It becomes a part of your routine. Helping every single day with simple life skills, ones that we all do so naturally and take for granted such as taking a shower and brushing our teeth. I do this daily while still having to maintain and run a normal household. It's like having a 5 year old, never growing up but making slow progress. I don't want sympathy. I want understanding. But if you haven't been a caretaker or the Mom of a special needs child before then it's really hard to understand.
Over the past few years I have been drawn to share her story. I know how alone I have felt for the past 12 years fighting for HER. Fighting for her rights as a human being. Fighting for her rights to receive a fair and free education. Now for my full disclosure, I am not an expert by any means, I'm not a teacher, special educator, not a therapist, I'm not a psychologist I'm just a mom who wants my daughter to be happy and have opportunity for a somewhat normal life.
Special needs kids are often a target for bullying because of their disability. When my daughters voice cannot be heard, I speak for her. I speak for every other special needs child who has endured tormenting, emotional or physical abuse and isolation by their peers. Some parents of special needs children preach inclusion. Inclusion does not always work for some of these kids. My daughters experience of being kept in the general education classroom was a nightmare.
From getting stiches in the first grade for falling in the cafeteria carrying a lunch tray, (which she wasnt supposed to carry), to being left in a bathroom for unknown amount of time covered in feces needing help. That's just a peice of it...she has been picked on, teased, called names. She was also assault physically. She knows what it's like to be left out of anything and everything. She has not been able to do what typical kids do- sleepovers, birthday party invites, other extra curricular activities. I eventually got an advocate involved but it took the Maryland public