It has been the most positive learning experience I have ever been through. I am truly blessed to have met and become friends with the people in my class.
As one of my fellow graduates stated during her graduation speech, "You know how when your child is born [with disabilities] and you wonder 'Where is the manual?' Well, I feel like I finally got that 'manual'"
Look into it. I wish it is something the world could experience. Below is my graduation speech. Partners deeply affected my life. And by Partners, I mean the speakers, the seminars, the support, my classmates, the organizers, etc.
A lot has changed since I applied for Partners.
Moosie, our second child, was also diagnosed with a disability--autism spectrum disorder. But thanks to Partners, our family was OK. We knew Moosie didn't change. He was still Moosie, and that was all that mattered.
Bubba persevered through some spirit-breaking experiences in Kindergarten, and has grown as a big brother. Thanks to Partners, all it took was us realizing he is a person, not a behavior.
My husband and I are finally finding "the balance" after 9 years of marriage by realizing if you open up your parameters, happiness isn't just in the moment, but also in the larger picture. And yes, even that is in part thanks to Partners.
Before Partners, I was gunho, jumping into everything regarding "disability world." I felt that my "activism" was so great, but the truth was I was hiding in the larger issues, the research, helping others with their struggles. I was hiding from how disability affected my life, my family, and how I felt about that.
Partners gave me the knowledge, power, and courage to reflect and analyze how I really felt about disability, what I was really fighting for and why.
In turn, I've gotten to know my children and my husband in the way they deserve. I've accepted myself in a way I couldn't before.
Partners has helped me rebuild my core and my spirit. It's given me direction, confidence, and most importantly affirmation that what I have always felt in my gut is OK, even though it goes against what society throws at me every day.
To some, it may sound like Partners did the opposite for me than what it was supposed to do. I am not up in arms to fight legislators and take down school districts, but instead have first turned inward. But the foundation needed for my future advocacy work is solid now. I not only know my story, but I own my story.
Thank you Partners for letting me love and accept my kids, myself, my life. I am truly leaving empowered in the strongest sense of the word.
I think larger, good things will come from that.