a word from Tegan…. A word from Tegan…… Hi everyone, you may or may not know me so let me give you a quick rundown. I am the Occupational Therapist here at Jumbunna, and have been here since October 2015, when I finished my degree. As well as being an Occupational Therapist, I am a mother to a four-year-old (who attends Jumbunna) and an almost 12-year-old child with multiple difficulties and disabilities. I have written about him in a past blog, but in quick summary Jacob has an intellectual impairment, epilepsy, and an as yet undiagnosed genetic condition. I wanted to write a little bit today about my journey. Many of the parents we meet here at Jumbunna are at the beginning of the long, bumpy road called special needs parenting. I would like to think that being a little further down that road, I may have some perspective to offer. I remember back when I found out Jacob was different, he was 8 months old and had started having absent seizures, he was behind on all his milestones (although at the time I didn’t really know that). Jacob’s day-care centre at the time approached me about seeing a paediatrician and I flew off my handle. I said no, I pulled him out and I buried my head in the sand. Once I went home and had a think (and a talk to a good friend) I realised that I needed to face up to this, who knew, maybe the paediatrician would prove me right and there would be nothing wrong. And so, started a long and bumpy journey of therapy, medical appointments, tests and scans, and my feeling like a failure as a parent. Many years later I can look back to the person I was then and I want to hug her. As a parent of a child with special needs I often feel stressed, at fault, and totally alone. I imagine there may be some of you reading this who feel the same way. But I want you all to know you are not alone, we as a staff body here at Jumbunna are here to support you, whether that’s through therapy, teaching, a listening ear, or just a break while your child is in our care. Special needs parents are strong, brave and face up daily to struggles others could not even fathom. We do this, not because we are special in some way, but because we do not have a choice and so we rise to this and become the best version of ourselves we can be. Not only are we mothers, we are therapy assistants (doing our homework the therapists give us), counsellors, advocates, sleep deprived, constantly on edge about what may come next and a whole host of other things. No wonder we are so strong, we do not have a choice. I still have bad days, bad weeks. Days when I think I cannot go on, and I am totally failing. On those days I try to be kind to myself or find someone else who understands and can build me up when I can’t. Nobody can be strong all the time. When you as a special needs parent are having a bad day remember this one thing, you are not alone and this too shall pass.