Being a child, I remember how excited I was to start school for the first time. It was a whole new world and it was opening its ever-evolving doors for me. On the other hand, my Mom had worries. That’s the “parent thing” to do anyway, right? Having a child with limb loss, entering school, going to camp, or a new place like a daycare for the first time can be a very frightening thing. How will the other kids treat them? Will they be bullied? If we’re being honest here, I think we all know that times really haven’t changed, and kids can be cruel and mean. Don’t let that put a damper on your little one’s new adventure or yours as a soon-to-be PTA Mom/Dad though, because kids can also be really amazing, protective, and understanding.
There will always be worries, as with all parents, but especially parents of children with disabilities. Wondering how to help the process, how to help them understand, and then others to understand. Ugh. It’s so difficult and it shouldn’t have to be. But alas, here we are – trying to make the world a more accepting one and perhaps, one day, we will hopefully get there.
The thing about helping your child along through their incredible life and you being as lucky as you are to have such a beautiful and unique baby is that you also need to prepare yourself, you also need to take time to realize that life will be a little difficult for them but that shouldn’t hold them back from whatever their hearts desire, and you shouldn’t hold them back either. While I cannot speak from experience of being a parent to a child with limb loss I can speak from their perspective. My mother was so worried about me. At one-point thinking that I would never be able to be independent again. She worried that I would never have the ability to drive again, to be happy again. Yet here I am, putting all of those fears down and living my life to its fullest, or trying anyway. I strongly believe that with her love and support from the very beginning I was able to get past the trauma that I went through. I was able to accept and love my new life as an amputee. She continuously fills me with the same strength that emanates from her. The purpose of all of this is to show you that you have more of an influence on how your child lives their life than you probably know. Stick by them, stick up for them, push them to follow their dreams, and support them on their journey throughout life.
Let’s hop to how you may prepare your child for this new and exciting adventure.
First, educate them. I’m sure you have been working up to this point since your child was born. Teaching them how to crawl, walk, speak, read, spell – singing the ABCs with them. And the “different” aspect of being a parent to a child with limb loss which includes, teaching them how to react when someone asks about their limb loss, helping them with self-acceptance, self-love, and teaching them that they are wonderful, smart, and just as special as any other child in this world. After ensuring the positive experiences to be had, go, and educate the educators. Speak with the principals, the teachers, and school counselor about your child and their limb difference. Talk about their personality and ask questions. What are the protocols, just-in-case? You may ask the teacher to read a cool book about limb loss like Uniquely Me and/or Molly the Pony for the class on the first day so that some of your child’s classmate’s curiosity will be soothed. You may also consider asking if you and your child could talk with the class together to answer any questions they may have about why and how your child is an amputee, what they like, dislike, what their hobbies are. Doing so can ensure that your child shares some of the same likes and hobbies as the other children. Not so different after all, ay?