Parents Are the Voices of our Children – But They Are the Warriors

It was two weeks before Christmas and Maria Martinez’s twins, a boy and a girl, were on their way. It was finally time for Maria to hold her ‘warrior babies’ in her arms.

Maria’s son Manuel had received a prenatal diagnosis of pulmonary valve stenosis. She had been advised that immediately upon his birth, he would be rushed into heart surgery. Maria was still trying to mentally prepare for that eventuality while in the delivery room, “But then a miracle occurred,” she shared, “The doctors said there was no need for the surgery!”

Then on Christmas Eve the cardiologist said Manuel was ready to go home. Maria was so relieved. “We were finally all going to be home together!”

As her twins grew, she monitored and compared their development. She brought her concerns about Manuel to the twins’ pediatrician and was advised not to worry as boys are slower to walk and crawl than girls.

Manuel was 3 years old when he was diagnosed with developmental delay and speech and language impairment. He began receiving special education services in preschool.A few years later, he received a diagnosis of epilepsy and after that, a diagnosis of autism.

When Maria was referred to Raising Special Kids, she spoke with Family Support Specialist Claudia Jaramillo. Claudia encouraged Maria and helped her understand her rights and responsibilities as a parent. Those skills helped Maria successfully navigate the IEP process and request necessary accommodations and modifications for Manuel.

“I realized that I could advocate for my son and be his voice.” As if thinking out loud she added, “We parents can also be the voice of those parents we may never know who are coming after us.”

Maria credits Raising Special Kids with helping her gain the calm she needed to face unknown diagnoses and helping her stay focused on Manuel’s abilities and skills rather than his challenges.

“When I see the Raising Special Kids logo, I remember this phrase: “Do not see his limitations, see his abilities, see what he is capable of and take advantage of that.”

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