A Birthday Invitation Allayed Fears That Our Daughter Would Be Left Out
What came to mind first were the big things — having children, getting married, getting her driver’s license, and living on her own. Rett syndrome robs a person of the everyday things we take for granted, such as walking, talking, and using our hands. I also wondered about her college savings plan, and whether she would live with us for the rest of her life.
Then I began to wonder about the little life events, those moments every mom wants their child to experience, such as going on a date, holding someone’s hand, and the first kiss. Would Cammy go to prom? Would she ever be invited to anything?
We were still adjusting to this new reality eight months later when Cammy came home from preschool with an extra big smile on her face. I asked her if she had a good day at school. Her eyes lit up, her eyebrows raised, and she beamed ear to ear. For a nonverbal person, all those facials expressions meant an absolute “Yes!”
I turned on her Tobii Dynavox eye-gaze device. Cammy immediately navigated to her “about me” page set, combining the two buttons “My best friend” and “Jefferson Preschool.” She repeated it over and over. I smiled and asked, “You had a good day with Oliver?” Her smile never left her face as she looked over at her backpack. I knew something was in there to tell me more about her day.
Inside was a card addressed to Cammy. I opened it. I looked up at Cammy. She was overjoyed, proud, and eagerly waiting my response. The floodgates opened as I wrapped my arms around her. The card was an invitation to her new best schoolmate’s birthday party.
This was the first birthday invitation from a friend who was not one of our friends’ kids or a family member — the first invitation from a friend all her own. A special note inside said, “Oliver REALLY wanted to invite Cammy to his small party of family and close friends.”
Ten years later, Cammy and Oliver are still dear friends. They live in different states now, but along with Oliver’s parents, we make sure they still see each other at least once a year.
I will always worry about whether my daughter will be accepted and included, and how she will navigate big life events. But isn’t that everyone’s worry, special needs or not?
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