Looking back on old photos can be bittersweet. Especially when you have children with special needs. So many of us hope to carry on with family life as normal, and at first we think we can. And perhaps some families do.
But many differences become more noticeable as time goes on. More and more time has to be spent looking after their needs and attending appointments. Meantime other children grow older, and grow away from your child.
There are two moments in particular that stand out for me. One was a letter offering a secondary school place to Smiley at the same school attended by her sister. I cried. You see for several years I’d assumed that she would go to mainstream school. I checked them out for wheelchair accessibility. I put her name down on the lists. In the intervening years filled with battles with the State to get her any education at all, I’d forgotten my early optimism, until I got that letter.
The other time was much earlier, just before the battles began.
It was the occasion of her last birthday party.
When she was three.