Don’t Underestimate Your Child With a Disability 

The biggest obstacle I had to over come when raising Devin, was my ability to have confidence in his actions. Whether it was his academic ability, athletic ability or social skills, I struggled with believing in his capabilities but he always proved me wrong.

Devin struggled with gross and fine motor skills, speech and language, processing information quickly and all coupled with a below average IQ. One can see how I would be skeptical. However, it bothered me more than it bothered Devin.

Having a lack of gross and fine motor skills will hinder anyone’s abilities to compete in a sport. You can imagine how fearful I was when we signed up Devin for little league. Devin was never the star player but he certainly wasn’t the worst either. In fact, he was rewarded the game ball three times in one year. Once for hitting a game winning single and twice for making two remarkable catches to win a game ( both in play off games). Devin is also proficient at horse back riding, competing in both Western and English riding where he walked away with many championship ribbons.

His speech and language issues always concerned me socially. My biggest fear was he would be a target for bullies. Devin was exceptional at reading people’s personalities and was able to navigate around rambunctious and troubled individuals. I remember one time, Devin was probably about 5 yrs old and we were at a 4th of July party at my brothers Country Club . A clown showed up and began making animal figures out of balloons. All the kids ran over to get on line including Devin , as I watched Devin closely, a few overly excited kids cut the line in front of Devin. The over protective Dad I am was furious and I was burning up internally. I marched right over to that line and I said to Devin “Don’t let these kids cut you in line, stand your ground” Devin looked me square in the eye and just said “Patience Dad, Patience”. My jaw dropped and I could not believe what this 5 year old just said to me. I was trying to teach him to stand his ground and he did! He stood up to his over baring father, I could not be more proud. I probably told that story 200 times since. Devin also was a member of the 4H for 7 years. Each year His club participated in a public speaking contest against other local clubs. Each year he qualified to regionals, then states up in Ithaca NY. What an amazing accomplishment for anyone let alone a child with a speech and language impairment.

With his lack of ability to process information quickly and a below average IQ, I was certain that he would never make it through high school. When we found out about Devin’s true IQ, he was probably 11 years old. I remember the Therapist telling us, “Don’t worry, your son will be fine, in 7 years he will graduate High School then attend college. I remember thinking: “what is this guy on and is he just telling us what we want to hear?”

I thought for sure Devin would be living with us for the majority of his life. Fast forward 7 years; Devin not only graduated high school, he graduated with honors. During his 4 years at Arlington high school in NY, he made honor roll most semesters and received countless of academic awards. Devin now attends LandMark college in Putney Vermont with a $7000 academic scholarship. He achieved National Honor Society during his 3rd semester and is currently majoring in liberal arts.

Devin is well aware of his disabilities and knows his limitations. He also knows that he has to work harder than everyone else at whatever he does. I used to feel sorry of Devin, but now I envy him. He is an amazing individual and continues to be an over achiever as he marches through life.