Abby Scott, our cover child, likes horseback riding, playing
soccer, riding her bike and playing with her cousins, friends and
The 7-year-old Chicago girl also happens to have cerebral palsy
and a smile that can warm the coldest heart.
Her mom, Denise, is a special education teacher who says she
thought her training would give their family an advantage in
teaching Abby what she "needs to know" to get along. Instead, she
was in for a surprise.
"What I quickly realized was that Abby is the teacher and we are
better off because of the many lessons she has taught us," Denise
Lesson 1: You cannot control everything.
"This was a tough one for me. As soon as Abby was born, I
realized that we were no longer in control. There was a beautiful
baby who was depending on us and agendas were out the window. We
quickly learned that you have to work closely with doctors and
therapists to get the best care possible. Your entire focus changes
as you try to decide what is best."
Lesson 2: Never take anything for granted.
"She has helped us realize that you should celebrate all
accomplishments, large or small. Abby does everything in her own
time and with a tremendous amount of effort."
Lesson 3: Most people are inherently kind.
"Abby radiates happiness and it is contagious. I cannot even
begin to count how many times someone has approached me and said
that she is so sweet and happy. As her parents, our main priority
is her happiness so such positive reinforcement from strangers
reaffirms that we are doing something right. There are days you
need that! We also have been blessed that there are so many people
who help make her happy daily. Family, friends, coworkers,
teachers, therapists, doctors, neighbors, coaches, and other
parents are a constant reminder that people are kind and want to
"I am frequently touched and humbled by the extent that people
are willing to go above and beyond for Abby."
Lesson 4: Patience.
"Nothing changes overnight and there are many days when you want
to throw in the towel. There are many frustrating components of
raising a child with a disability. I cannot even begin to add up
how many hours I have spent making phone calls, driving to
appointments, and questioning myself about why we are literally
exhausting ourselves trying to squeeze everything in. Fortunately,
it seems as though whenever I get to the breaking point, something
or someone gives me the encouragement to keep fighting for my
Lesson 5: Perseverance and unconditional
"Abby endures a schedule that would be taxing for most adults.
However, she does it happily and with a smile (as long as there are
no shots). ... She loves life and puts her whole heart into
everything she does."
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