The thing about the Special Needs issue is it is unlike any other issue – and that has nothing to do with the topic itself. The April issue is truly special because it’s not like Parenting OC’s other themes that focus on parental topics like the best summer camps for your child, the top schools in the county, or interesting spots for the family to travel – all important topics, of course, but not like the topics focused on in this April issue. The Special Needs issue is devoted to the children, and the love, compassion, and support their family and community provides for them.
Life would probably be a whole lot easier if every child was born with a detailed, one-of-a-kind “How To” manual that lays out all of their mannerisms, reactions, likes, dislikes, talents, disadvantages, and so on. Imagine knowing that your daughter has a knack for dancing, has the tendency to bite other children, has a rare zeal for trash trucks, can have a feisty temper, and has a one-of-a-kind laugh – long before she can even say her first words. This may be helpful in teaching her early on that biting others is bad, or get her started in ballet when she is young. But what’s the fun in that? When it comes to your children, the biggest joy is discovering what makes them tick. Every child is fantastically unique and those little offbeat qualities are what make your heart melt when you observe them.
Our cover child Dorthy Campos radiates pure love. From the second she began her photo shoot, she was giggling, playing, and being a total ham in front of the camera. And when her younger brother joined her, she leaned over and planted a big kiss on his cheek. Her beauty and affection lit up the studio. Her parents held her, tossed her in the air, caught her, and together they laughed and laughed until all of us were cracking up. It’s no secret that parents of children with special needs have an exclusive set of challenges. I spoke with parents who shared their internal devastation when they initially learned that their unborn baby will have a disability or when their child was diagnosed with a condition. A common theme was being concerned with how it will affect their family life, the stares or ignorance they experienced from others, and the exhaustion of having to go back and forth to therapy clinics or doctor appointments. Yes, there are challenges. But there are triumphs that override the tribulations. And I did not come across any parent that didn’t end their story with pure joy and pride for their children and their gratitude for their community or organizations that have supported their journey.
I hope this issue sings a harmonious song of unity and love, because we at Parenting OC certainly felt it as we put it together. I hope you enjoy the moving stories of local families, learn about the wide variety of Orange County-based special needs organizations, and are in awe by the many local summer camps that accommodate children of all abilities. Make sure to check out our story on the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and Inland Empire, which is celebrating 35 years of granting wishes to children battling critical illnesses with a special free-to-the-public event for families at AV Irvine on April 29. We also introduce our new monthly feature “The Pause Button”, which will offer a look at little-known OC spots, fun family crafts, and low-cost ways to decompress.
Read and be inspired and uplifted by the compassionate and supportive people and organizations surrounding our community. As always, feel free to share YOUR amazing stories of you and your family, provide comments or suggestions – or just say hello!
See you for our Summer Fun issue in May!