The twins turned 18 on the 28th of July. Yesterday, we celebrated their birthday with a small family gathering. Birthdays are always a bit emotional, both happy and sad at the same time. For typical kids, families celebrate the anniversary of the birth of a child and it is a time to marvel at how much a child has grown and developed. For the twins – and many other children with special needs – the birth date was not a happy time, but a very traumatic and scary time. When the twins were born three and a half months too soon we didn’t even know if they would live or die. At that time we were only thinking in black and white terms, would they live or die. Of course, few things in life are that simple. As we’ve learned, survival was only the first of many challenges we would face.
The 18th birthday is a big milestone for all kids; the boys are now technically/legally adults. We been busy with mountains of paperwork including guardianship, SSI, DDS, ACF to name just a few of the alphabet soup services we need to deal with. For kids with special needs, moving from children’s services into the adult system is a lot of work and red tape, and we have three kids transitioning at the same time. Anthony also turned 18 on May 1st. All three will remain in public school until their 22nd birthday, then we’ll have our next big transition. But these transitions are very different from typical kids; graduating from high school, going off to college, and hopefully becoming independent, productive adults. At least we will never have to worry about “empty nest” syndrome. The biggest worry for us and most parents of kids with disabilities is “what will happen to my child when I’m gone?” syndrome.
On the bright side, the twins are doing amazingly well in spite of their challenges. They are happy, healthy kids who love life. And really, what is more important than health and happiness?
Here is a little birthday party video: