Within the United States, one in six, or about 15%, of children aged three through 17 have one or more developmental disabilities.

My son is part of this statistic and has developmental disability. And aside from medically related challenges, ensuring that my son receives the education he deserves in a way that supports him the best has been easy in some areas and challenging at best.

When he started middle school we purposely enrolled him into a special education program for his core classes and his electives are where he’s experiencing inclusion with his peers such as art, chorus, and P.E. And it was definitely one of the best decisions we’ve made when it comes to my son’s education.

We will be facing new hurdles in the future when it comes to his independent living and working just like everyone else in this world. His developmental disabilities are neurologically related with a recent diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and a specific learning disability in math.

In Virginia, individuals with developmental disabilities are included and active in their communities, they live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives and the state thrives to recognize the contributions of Virginians with developmental disabilities and the Commonwealth’s efforts to identify and remove barriers to inclusion for all Virginians. You can read the proclamation created in 2018 from our Governor here

Every day we practice independent living skills at home, from doing his own laundry and cooking his own food – even if it’s in the microwave. Within the school setting, he gets to practice going to the store and buying groceries, help stock the shelves at a local grocery store and cook various food on the stove with his peers.

The biggest fear perhaps as a parent is that my son will not be able to live a quality life due to judgment on what other’s deem a lack of ability when in fact he’s got other amazing strength. His kindness is one of his favorite qualities (his words) and his mindset is what keeps me in awe of who he is.

And then I read articles like this one “Companies Find Hiring Those On The Spectrum Has Vast Benefits” and I can feel and see the hope that in fact, he will be able to live on his own.

My son is quite capable of making his own decisions – even though he may need support in two main areas: finances and his health. With a lot of practice, he will be able to master a lot of things like taking the bus so he can get around i.e. to and from work, visiting friends and so on.

His developmental disabilities do not make him less than a person. In fact, they make him a person that’s worth knowing because just maybe the world could learn a thing or two.

Petra Monaco

Petra Monaco

The Rebels Den

Author + Artist, a Goal Coach + Business Strategist. Petra helps freedom-seeking Rebels + Creatives to follow their intuition, embrace who they are while they taking action towards their dreams + goals - whether it’s writing a book, starting a business or just focusing on personal goals. Petra uses her personal story to inspire and motivate people into doing the work they need to do to create change because she believes that your excuses are just avoidance. You can have the cake and eat it too if you're willing to show up for it!
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