Our gorgeous, chaotic eight year old daughter has additional needs.
I don’t want people to feel sad or sorry for us. I don’t want people to tell me what an amazing thing we have done adopting.
What I want is for people to accept that this is who Winnie is. She isn’t unhappy. She isn’t sad because she can’t lead a so called ‘normal’ life (I can hear her singing now). She is who she is, funny, creative, noisy, brave, resilient and challenging!
If Winnie’s disability was physical, people would probably understand that she cannot always do what other children do. If it had a ‘name’ people would nod and think, “well that explains it”. But because she doesn’t have a specific diagnosis, just complex social, emotional and learning difficulties, people just don’t get it and it is very hard to explain!
Wiinnie views the world in her own way. People can’t understand why she can’t be ‘normal’. She is! It’s just her normal looks slightly different from other people’s perception of normal.
What we really need is for people to accept this and support us in helping Winnie to live a full and happy life, within her capabilities. And this may mean she doesn’t have a ‘conventional’ childhood or adulthood (whatever that is?!). She will always need a lot of adult support and guidance.
We need people to accept that the way we do things, the way we live our lives and manage Winnie’s behaviour may not be the norm. But it works for us and most of the time it works for Winnie. We don’t expect people to understand, I don’t think you can even begin to understand unless you live with it (we struggle). We just want acceptance and to not always have to explain why! Because the answer is we don’t really know. Winnie certainly doesn’t know why she behaves in certain ways and nor do the many professionals that support us. I won’t lie, it isn’t always easy, but that’s just the way it is!