We just celebrated my daughter Rebecca's 29th
birthday. I am amazed when I think about what a wonderful, full
life she has, and as a result, what it has enabled me to enjoy as
There are memories of that dark time in the life of our
family when the diagnosis of a pervasive developmental delay seemed
like the end of anything feeling familiar. She was less than a year
old. How could this be happening?
None of us, not my husband, my son, nor I, were prepared
for the new territory we were thrust into instantly. We felt
helpless, as if our world was collapsing. Everything we planned
came crashing in.
Our hopes and dreams for our baby girl were
Or so we thought.
We set out on a path of discovery. We grieved. We were
angry and felt isolated. We were disbelieving and refused to accept
that she would be defined by her limitations.
Through it all, though, we learned that Rebecca is a
teacher to all of us. She has an enormous spirit and is a joyful
person who will not be denied. I sometimes joke that she must have
been royalty in some other life. She is engaging and relentlessly
insistent that she be treated with respect. She gets nervous and
has learned to self-soothe.
She has a voice and a powerful, clear sense of
You know when you are headed in the right direction
because everything gets easier. Even the struggles seem to ease. We
didn't feel alone. We found a community of like-minded families and
professionals. We dared to dream and it all paid off.
Today, Rebecca lives independently in a home in Glenview
with three other young adults. They have staff who assists them
when needed. She attends an art studio and has become quite an
artist. She works in the community one day a week. She loves music
and has friends. She is safe and happy. Life is not without
challenges, but Rebecca has a sense of purpose, positive
self-esteem and an identity as someone whose life means
This is what every parent wants for their child, and it
confirms that the vision her father and I had for her was possible
beyond anything we might have dreamed.
Diane Turner is a mom of two and author of Heart Wisdom: A Concise Companion for Creating a Life of Possibility. She lives in Glenview.
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