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Dear Parents

Guest Author: Tarra

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

Dear Parents,

I know it must be hard to deal with kids who have cognitive disorders and how a parent has to struggle daily to get the care, needs and education that would benefit your little ones. I should know as my mom went through the same battles for me. Back in the day, I remember they segregated and kept students with all kinds of issues together, just passing us on through the curriculum because they thought that we would not have the cognitive ability to understand the basic rules of society.

I ended up lagging years behind my peers and was being bullied, teased and harassed daily by the other kids just because I didn’t fit in. I had very few friends due to the fact that my social graces were not acute enough to understand relationships. I was never really accepted as most people didn’t understand me and many wouldn’t even try. Even if a group of people did end up accepting me, I would still feel like an outsider because I was different.

Back then, I was told I probably had some sort of autism and that I would never amount to much due to my developmental delays. Most people believed that I kids with learning disabilities would never be able to learn the basics to deal with daily life. As a kid, I was quite destructive to other things such as furniture or toys but never to myself. Most days I would spend alone, either walking along the beach and through the forest or playing with my many pets (20 trained chickens, 3 cats, 1 dog and several pet seagulls). I loved nature and animals and still do to this day.

As a kid, I was prone to meltdowns and had issues with anger due to my learning delays and communication issues with family and peers. I was also very artistic as a kid and loved to draw pictures, write poetry and construct things. Mom tried her best to cope with me but times were tough and there was little to no support for children like me where I was from, so my mother in the 80s started North Island Community Living and taught me through her actions how to be a fighter and self-advocate.

I managed to learn what my strengths were.

Now back in the day, there was no real testing children for developmental and learning disorders like there is today, so for 30 plus years, I knew that I had some sort of learning disorder but not understanding the full scope of what I had. Learning to adapt and cope with my situation was hard as I didn’t know what disorder I truly has until about 2 years ago but I managed to learn what my strengths were and what I wasn’t so good at.

I had some good friends, teachers and family members to learn from and emulate the behaviors that I thought were normal. I tried to hide the parts of me that I felt were embarrassing, and thought that if I could just act normal then perhaps I could fit in or at least be accepted by my peers. I always thought that being special” was wrong and considered to be shameful. This led to me having low self-esteem and a low sense of self-worth to the point of almost no longer caring about my life.

So I left the abuse behind and started a life in a new city.

In my early years, I was attracted to the wrong types of people, entering into a world of unhealthy marriage, abuse and drugs. One day, I woke up and realized that I was worth so much more and started to fight back. I never sought out counseling nor did I want it. I just decided to change my attitude and way of thinking. So I left the abuse behind and started a life in a new city. I still felt that having a learning disability was something to be embarrassed about and would still attracted the wrong sort of people but I was slowly changing and learning more about who I truly was and knew I had to change my choice of friends.

At 29, I learned that I was more than just my cognitive disorder as I learned to drive and was well on my way to being self-sufficient from the life skills that were taught to me to better take care of myself and my home, along with coping at work. That was until the people teaching me these lessons they were removed from my life when funding was cut. This lack of funding due to husband #2 making too much lead my life down the wrong path and I ended up nearly homeless and couch hopping until the divorce was final.

After the divorce, I went to a new city and was working for the first year but ended up getting laid off (reason long forgotten but I left on not so friendly terms). Afterwards, I decided to become self-employed and enjoyed it very much but I wasn’t making enough money so I was constantly struggling and finding myself wondering which bill to pay or other ways to buy food.  When I was at my low point, the love of my life suddenly entered my life and started to make it so much easier.

I am great in small group settings with quiet places.

This wasn’t to say that I didn’t struggle as I still found work environments to be hell even at the best of times.  The mixture of my own high energy, from having ADHD and Autism, and the overload of stimulation I get from the work place make it hard for me to tolerate working with large groups of people.  I am great in small group settings with quiet places that allow for change but also allows me to stay on task which is why I would take jobs like house cleaning, pet care, care giving, and daycare. I am a fun loving lady that is always out to help other person but I just wish I could do more to relieve the financial burden on my husband as he is the main provider in the home.

To all the parents out there struggling to find the resources for their children, I want to wish that things do get easier as your little ones grow up but from my own experience, it is more likely that the struggle will only get harder as your children’s needs go up and the lack of understanding you will face in society as a whole will also increase. Without the crucial skills your children will need to cope in society by themselves coming from proper adult support, your children will have to walk a road of misunderstanding and hardship as adults.  I know it is a hard pill to swallow as a parent but the truth is the truth and all you can do is try to prepare your children and let them know that there is always hope if they are willing to work for it.

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