A child with special needs is more than numbers, but that can be hard to remember when negative numbers are all doctors and educators share with parents.

A child with special needs is more than numbers. You know that, I know that, and as guest blogger Kimberly Drew reminds us, God knew that when he knit our babies together in the womb. She encourages parents to look beyond test results and to reinforce the fact that every child with special needs is more than numbers. We are all more than the sum of our parts.

A Child with Special Needs Is More Than Numbers

Life begins with numbers.
Nine months.
Centimeters dilated.
Hours of labor.

But it doesn’t stop there. Everything is measured in numbers.

Baby’s weight and length.
Head circumference.
Apgar score.
Breathing rate.
Ounces per feeding.
Diapers a day.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. You come home from the hospital and count the hours between feedings, the hours you get to sleep, and before long you count the weeks it took to see your baby smile. For parents of neuro-typical children the numbers start to spread out into months.

Clothing by month.
Age by month.
Milestones by month.

But for parents of children with special needs, the numbers can take a different turn and exact an emotional toll. For instance, when your preemie baby doesn’t look her age and every stranger who stops to talk to you requires a “disclaimer” about her size. For parents of children with physical and mental disabilities the charts, measuring, and numerical markers aren’t fun.

We had an eligibility evaluation for our youngest who was adopted with special needs. For an hour and a half the test administrator examined everything from how she responds to a voice to how she tries to use her pointer finger. All the while, the test administrator recorded results in her computer. At the end of the test, scores came out.

A typical child’s score is zero.
An advanced child’s is a positive number.
A child with delays has a negative score.

The negative section is even divided into sections. Some negatives are okay…some are really bad. Our daughter was in the “really bad” section, color-coded in red. Just in case we weren’t concerned about her development already, the RED WARNING color made it more apparent that she is severely behind.

Because we have a fifteen-year-old with disabilities, I know this is just the beginning of the scales and charts that we will talk about with a team of people. Her milestones will be measured in the “minis.”

She’s not sitting up, but she raises her arms 25% of the time to reach for me.
One of our older daughter’s goals is to stand up without assistance 3 out of 4 times.

Our daughters’ worlds literally and figuratively revolves around numbers. As parents of a child with special needs, we can start to drown in them. The negative reds can upset us if we let them. It’s important for me, for all of us, to keep these numbers in perspective. When we feel like we’re getting lost in them,  we need to remember that the God who determines the number of stars and names them all, also knows the number of hairs on my daughters’ heads because they matter that much to him. (Psalm 147:4, Matt. 10:30)

We should remember that the world looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7) He does not measure the same way that the world does. My girls are not a number to him, they are not a chart or a growth curve. Neither are your children!

When you are drowning in the numbers, find rest and peace in Psalm 139: 13–18, paying special attention to the numbers in verses 17 and 18.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

I awake, and I am still with you.”

Your Thoughts?

How do you define your child with special needs with more than numbers? Share your insights in the comment box!

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A child with special needs is more than numbers, but that can be hard to remember when negative numbers are all doctors and educators share with parents.