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Fall 2001 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Accepting Help

By Gina Meadors Ortiz, Parent, Bryan, Texas

After twelve years of marriage, our little angel, Gabriela, was born. Soon our joy turned to disbelief and a sea of unanswered questions. While most parents were beaming with pride at each new milestone, we were dealing with diagnoses such as "severe developmental delay," "legally blind," "mentally retarded," and "seizure disorder."

The first years of a child's life should be full of beautiful memories. For our family, all we remember are the seizures, the doctors, and the unanswered questions. Instead of playgroups, we had sessions with physical therapists, occupational therapists, vision therapists and speech therapists.

6 7 In the beginning, I cried a lot. Then realizing I had to "be strong for Gabriela," I quit crying and threw myself into the job at hand. The first two years went by very fast. I thought I was in control of my emotions. After all, I no longer cried every time my little darling had a seizure.

One day Bettye, our caseworker for the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) , stopped by for a home visit. I must have looked a mess! I know my house was dirty. I couldn't remember the last time I had vacuumed. Though I forced myself to cook for Gabriela, everyone else fixed sandwiches if they wanted to eat. I guess you could say I was depressed. Bettye recognized I was in trouble. Not giving me time to decline, an appointment with a counselor was set for the next day.

I had been raised to "fix your own problems." Talking about your problems was a waste of time and did nothing to solve it. If something is wrong, do something about it. But this did not include talking to a stranger! My counselor, Lois, was wonderful. I opened up to her. I told her secrets I had told no one.

Though my feeling of depression was based on my daughter's disabilities, I did not realize how my past years still affected me. Through the hours of tears and soul searching, I learned much about myself. I learned to accept my daughter as she is. I also learned to take time out for myself. At least every once in a while!

Opening up to a stranger is difficult. You know what you say is confidential, but it's a feeling of vulnerability to open your life for examination. Keep a box of Kleenex nearby; you'll need them!

With the help of counseling, I have grown in so many ways. No longer am I intimidated by staring strangers. No longer do I stand by while young college kids use Grandma's handicapped sticker park in one of the few handicapped parking spaces. (I guess their disability is wearing three-inch heels!)

A counselor cannot "fix it" for you. They listen. Believe it or not, the answer lies within yourself! We just need help in getting to the answers.

I love my daughter with all my heart. If you only looked at the diagnoses, you would miss the beautiful blue-green eyes that are full of expression. You would miss the cuddly little girl whom everyone falls in love with. You would miss the little girl who loves to be held and hates to be left by herself. If you look beyond the diagnoses, you will see a little girl, four years old, who enjoys going to school, riding horses and the feeling of wind in her face. You will see a little girl who is the apple of her daddy's eye!


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Last Revision: July 30, 2002