What children with special needs are here to teach us?
Since my daughter was born with brain injury and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, I meet many children with special needs and their family. Many are still living a challenging but meaningful life as their children with special needs teach precious lessons more than life can give. I sometimes question death as I encounter the death of children with special needs quite often. Not to mention how these children's death affects my life because I develop panic attacks and need help from counselling to deal with this issues. I have been asking myself this question lately, "What are children with special needs here to teach us?". For a person who likes to think like me, this is not an easy question. I found that I really need to think deeply and revisit my grief sometimes in order to find answers. So here are 3 major lessons I learnt from my child and children with special needs.
I'm not aloneMy daughter was in NICU at King Edward Memorial Hospital for 2 weeks after she was born, I remember the day we met the senior paediatric to discuss the result of her brain scan. I was nervous but at the same time, I had hope that he was going to tell us that there was nothing wrong with her brain and she was going to be alright. We knew that she had a brain injury at birth, but we didn't understand how it was going to affect her. At the meeting, he informed my husband and me that our daughter's condition will slowly show an early sign of physical impairment due to the injury. Well, she already had difficulty with feeding and was being fed through a nasogastric tube. I was shocked, crushed and traumatised when he said that there was no cure for brain injury and the fact that it can't be reversed.
I remember when I break the news of my daughter to my dear friend, she said to me that for sure Allah tests me by a calamity because He was guiding me to His blessing and mercy. She advised me to be patient and taught me this dua. "Indeed, we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him, we will return. O! Allah! Reward me for my calamity, and replace it for me that which is better." For the first time, I learnt that I am not alone because I have Allah. I believe that He will certainly without any doubt have something better for me and that made me rely on Him only. I am so grateful that my child made me reconnect with Him and He has made me feel not alone.
I also have my family and the power of my community who has helped and supported me since day one. I understand that not many people understand my condition and situation. Although I have experienced the greatest pain from the community that treats us without compassion and support, the experience only made me stronger that when I have Allah's help, I can handle the greatest storm in my life. Sometimes people fail you, but Allah will never fail you. In fact, I know my pain has inspired many people around me into a deeper meaningful life. My story softly opens their hearts and helps to heal their own pain. I am not alone in my pain because everyone around me can give support and compassion. It is too hard to do?
I'm not in controlI understand this ayah, "Not a leaf falls but with the knowledge of Allah". This is one of my favourite ayah in the Quran. I was really blown away by the fact that Allah not only created everything in this universe, He controls and regulates all living things and non-living thing, all events and all system whether I can see it or it's hidden from my sight, and from the littlest to the biggest. Subhan Allah!!!
One month after staying at NICU, we finally got to bring our baby home for the first time. At home, everything was normal until she caught a cold and had trouble breathing. She was three months old when this happened. We took her to the Princess Margaret Children Hospital. While she was at the hospital, she had seizure attack caused by an abnormal electrical activity in the brain. We met a neurologist for the first time to discuss her seizure. We were discussing her seizure and other conditions that affect someone with brain injury at that time. One answer that hit me hard was when I asked her what is going to happen to my daughter, she said she didn't know what is in the future. The fact that no one really knows what the future hold made me willing to face uncertain future with my child with special needs together.
That really taught me a very important belief in Islam, tawakkul or to put my trust in Allah. Allah will take care of everything. When you put your trust in Allah, you accept the result that Allah decides for you regardless of how they may turn out. When I accepted the fact that I have a child with special needs, I was ready to face whatever reality was to come and move forward to live my life with my child.
A gift from aboveThere are people who think that mothers who have children with disability are being punished for their sins. We forget that there are prophets before us who was tried with huge calamities. As a Muslim, I am aware that Allah challenges those He loves most, so He gave me a child with special needs. Having a special needs children is not a punishment. They are the gift of life from above to challenge your faith and give you a chance to get closer to Him so that you can earn His blessing, mercy and guidance.
As a woman of faith, I accept Allah's decree and His challenge of giving me a child with disabilities. I live life with the purpose of to please Him alone. Although my life is full of suffering I take it one day at the time and I make my life matter. All the suffering is necessary. I realised that I need the suffering because it helps me transform my life so I can make space, adjust and grow. I try not to isolate myself by finding things that can benefit me and my child not only in here but the hereafter.
When I realised that children with special needs are a gift from above, I learnt not to feel sorry for them. My daughter is a gift from above and I am grateful for this gift. I am honoured to receive a real privilege to care for and love her because she is a child of Jannah. They are not created merely for nothing or without any purpose. We all are created with a purpose. So, find that purpose and live your life to the fullest.
So my question is to you now, what are children with special needs here to teach you?