When I think of moments of pride with my other children, my mind immediately jumps to a milestone achieved – starting to crawl, their first word, learning to write their name or receiving an award for ‘empathy beyond their years’ – a common trait in siblings of children with special needs.
With GG it is difficult to pinpoint those moments in a ‘first’. I cried with joy the day she took her first steps, but actually I was more proud of the resilience she showed as a baby wearing splints for hours on end to help her muscles develop. I was prouder of her ability to persevere through a demanding daily, physio session for 3 continuous weeks which accelerated her physical development. I was really proud of how she adapted to a specialist walker in the months before she took her first independent steps. The ultimate achievement of a milestone is made up of hundreds of proud moments which reflect GG’s determination.
I am so proud of how hard GG tries to communicate – her attempts to sign, verbalise and use communication aids to make herself heard. Last year was the magical moment when she first verbalised her own name – it’s still not a clear pronunciation, but she knows what she is saying and is still proud as punch to answer the question ‘What is your name?’ It cannot be underestimated how hard she worked for that one small, but hugely significant achievement.
I am incredibly proud of how GG copes when she is unwell and particularly during seizures. GG complains so much less than other children but handles so much more. Awful ear infections that we only know about due to a high temperature, huge bruises or blisters on her feet that we are unaware of at the time, and yet she smiles on through her day. The confusion after a seizure and sheer exhaustion it brings – none of it stops her for long. I could not be prouder of how resilient GG is.
One of the greatest pleasures for us is seeing GG interact with others. GG has social skills well above the expected level for a child with a severe learning disability. From a young age, GG has always loved being the centre of attention and will always seek out the company of others. Watching her try and join in games with her siblings and peers, always a long way behind but cracking on regardless. The one in her classroom who likes to make sure everyone is included, regardless of whether they respond to her. I am so proud of how inclusive GG is and how infectious her happiness can be.
I cannot point at one moment, one achievement as being my proudest but if I had to summarise, then overall I am most proud of GG being true to herself and every day being the best that she can be.