Yes, it is challenging to have an extra-special kid and it's challenging to have an extra-special sibling, but it's not all bad. There are some really great things about having an extra-special kid in the family.
For example, S may want everyone to think she is too old to play with her dolls and Barbies, but secretly, she still likes it. K gives her the perfect excuse. K can play Barbies for hours, happily! I think Barbie may be my best friend, given her ability to keep them occupied for any length of time. S can always tell her friends that she had to play Barbies with her sister, followed by the well-rehearsed eye roll.
K gives us all sorts of reasons to slow down - a concept that is sadly lost most of the time in our society today. She is always the last one finished at the dinner table, but that's a good thing. She reminds us that no matter how hectic our day has been, dinner time is one time during the day that we can all slow down and enjoy each other's company.
K has forced me to be a creative problem solver. She's very sensitive to loud sounds and it is worse because her auditory processing disorder makes it impossible for her to filter out the extraneous noise to focus on the important sounds. After our first trip to Disneyland when she spent the entire week with her fingers in her ears, I figured I better find a better alternative. Am now buying stock in the company that makes those little foam earplugs. She prefers them in hot pink. Whatever. I just like that when I go to a movie, I don't feel like my eardrums are going to explode with the special effects of the movie (we all use them now). Never would have thought of it before! We are all more comfortable and heck, I might be able to avoid the old age hearing loss longer.
Speaking of Disneyland, K is a big fan. I mean, a REALLY big fan. We tend to vacation there more often than anywhere else. Why (aside from the obvious that it is the happiest place on earth) does she like it so much? She loves everything about it, but the most important thing that she loves is that it is comfortable. She knows what to expect. Her comfort makes the entire travel experience more fun for all of us. Because of K, we have explored lots of parts of Disneyland that we might never have done if we hadn't been visiting there regularly. That's not to say that we cater all our travel plans around K. She's not that rigid and she likes to do new things, too. However, when it comes down to a vacation that we can all enjoy and depend on, that's a good one.
I've mentioned before that K tends to linger in the ages and stages of life longer than S did/does. As the mom, I appreciate it because I don't have to watch her childhood fly by in the blink of an eye. As a family, it really keeps things fresh for us. We watch movies we may have skipped, read books that might not have looked appealing, and color outside the lines a little more often.
Most of all, having an extra-special kid in the family reminds us regularly that honesty, integrity, and good manners are gifts. She makes us laugh all the time. Often she doesn't realize what she does but it keeps us laughing all the same. K's challenges keep us all on our toes as we navigate this road together. In the end, I think it makes us a stronger family, a closer family, and a grateful family - grateful for each other.