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“Disability” is a relative term. In order for someone to be disabled there must be other people who are “abled,” who meet some real or imagined set of criteria that show their ability. By definition, then, a disabled person doesn’t meet that criteria. We are a disabled family. I’ve never found the criteria that would tell me if any of us are “abled,” but together we recognize that we are different. We are an autism family because my daughter was diagnosed with autism at age 3. We are an ADHD family because my son was diagnosed at age 8. He added Aspergers and adjustment disorder at age 9. I have chronic depression and anxiety, chronic migraine, and an eating disorder. And my husband, 3 of our 4 children, and I are all gifted. It’s frustrating, loud, dramatic, and often chaotic at our house. It’s also joyful. I was 21 and married less than a year when we found out I was expecting, and I was elated. Our marriage was just coming out of the “honeymoon phase”’and we simply didn’t feel complete without a baby. I didn’t know I had no clue how to be a mother until I was one, and even within the first 6 weeks of my daughter’s life I knew something was different. She was incredibly alert but seemed frightened by everything. A sweet older woman at the grocery store told her she was adorable and she immediately began screaming. She screamed so often and so violently that I became afraid of her tears and her cries. I was afraid of her intense need for me. She screamed whenever I put her down and the sound terrified me so much that I even held her while I used the toilet. I loved her more than I could have imagined, but her needs were so big that I felt weak, worthless, incapable. I loved her, but I was scared of her. Thus began an almost lethal combination of depression and anxiety in me that lasted many years. I thought I would be a good mother because I loved my daughter and because I read all the right books, but I was totally inadequate. Yet no one else seemed to understand her either. I had to be her mother but I was no longer sure I wanted the job. That’s when I found out I had another baby on the way. For more, follow me on Facebook at @OrganicCompostBlog.

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