There are people living lives they never expected, or wanted.

And most of those people have thrown themselves into those lives with love and courage and more strength than most of us can even imagine.

Nobody decides to start a family and imagines their future of raising an adult child still in nappies. No new mum looks forward to the years of silence her nonverbal child will give her. Nobody prepares for the teenage years by considering where to buy adapted sleepwear to stop their child soiling themselves and playing with it overnight.

And yet people live this life, and do it with a smile on their face and warmth in their heart. They do it while working, or volunteering, or staying at home. They do it while liking friends’ Facebook posts about how their perfect child just aced another test or reached another developmental milestone early. They do it with lots of support or no support at all.

Raising a child with extra needs is a rollercoaster of a life to live.

But it’s a blessing! I’m not supposed to mention the hard parts without following it up with something that eases your discomfort, that stops you ringing a safeguarding agency, or maybe just something that lightens the mood before the tears come.

Isn’t it time we were able to talk about the hard times – full stop. Isn’t it time we raised awareness by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly?

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