By Guest Blogger Jennifer A. Janes, author of the blog Jennifer A. Janes

When I received my daughter’s diagnoses, various specialists told me what I needed to know: the diagnosis, what medications or therapies are needed to treat it, the prognosis, and places where I can get more information and support, if needed. I have been in meetings where I was told what to expect from her as an adult, and I have gone to appointments where we just addressed immediate issues like the need for surgery or testing. In the decade since I became a parent to a child with special needs, I have come to realize that one truth surpasses everything the medical and scientific community can throw at me:

You might be surprised.

My daughter never ceases to amaze me. She struggles in some areas, but she excels in others. And some of the things she does seem to go against everything science understands about her diagnoses.

Here are just a few of the ways my daughter has surprised me:

  • She has developed some very good, very close friendships.
  • Sometimes I get a hug or kiss from her without asking.
  • She can have keen insight into people’s behaviors and sees things that I missed.
  • She has an amazing eye for fashion and cosmetology. (She plans to be a hair stylist/makeup artist when she grows up.)
  • Her dancing ability surprised a neurologist. (That surprised me. I didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be able to dance!)
  • She is willing to keep working on her weak areas, even after years of therapy.
  • She generally has a good attitude about the medical procedures and tests she has to undergo.
  • She doesn’t spend much time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she tries to live each day to the fullest.

I have also been surprised at myself. I’ll admit that I had some pity parties at first, but they didn’t last long. I realized that my child, after the diagnosis, is the same child I fell in love with before the diagnosis. As I have worked through all the emotions that come with being a special needs parent, I have found that there is joy in accepting things as they are and making the best of them.

And finding joy in unexpected places may be the most surprising thing of all.