Just The Way You Are from the writer of "Autistic Daughter Brings Pure Joy"

Today, we celebrate love. Many people think of this day as a time to honor and cherish and lavish your significant other with gifts.

But I want to take this time to honor the caregivers of children with special needs. 

As a mother, I love unconditionally,I sacrifice all things and most mother's do this. But when you stop to think about it-just your child's smile or hug or them telling you they love you,is more reward than the average parent can imagine-when your child might not be able to give you even that back.

My daughter has come so far in the last year,but for the longest time-she wouldn't respond in any way-when I'd smile at her. She was a happy,bubbly,awesome kid-she just couldn't process that the thing to do was to return the smile. Today,as I was putting her down for a nap. I kept closing my eyes,pretending to be asleep;so she'd stop playing and go to sleep. I opened my eyes and she was still staring at me,so I smiled...and she gave me a sheepish grin back. Oh well,I say! And then we smile back and forth and giggle a little. Do you know the strength of heart and absolute pure love it takes a care giver to never stop smiling and never stop trying to win that smile back?

Earlier this morning,I'd ask her to give me a hug and she'd say, "No!" But then she'll just hug or kiss me and it's the best feeling in the world. When she finally understood affection,it meant every thing to me;because she finally knew to give a hug because she loved somebody. This simple gesture many parents might do in passing with their children throughout the day,can make the day or week of a parent with a special needs child!

And to just hear, "Mommy or Daddy." You don't know how that feels to go years and not hear an utterance of your name. You just keep loving and giving and pouring out your life,but you would give anything to hear an "I love you,Mom." Now,when my daughter pulls at me and yells my name 30 times,in every variation known to man. I can only smile and stop what I'm doing,because it took me years to hear her call my name.

Maybe your child still can't do those things and you never stop loving them. You never stop fighting for them. You never stop smiling at them. This is for you-You deserve a big hug for Valentines Day and a big pat on the back!!!!

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