My name is Michelle Goos. This is a story about me and my family, but mostly about my child (teen) who has a disability too.
I have been with my partner, David, for 20 years. There have been ups and downs. Mostly around money. David has worked at the same place for 10 years. I work at the Salvation Army and as a Community Support Worker. David and I have learned how to budget. We live on a small amount of money, but every bill gets paid. We are good parents and I am proud of our family.
Our daughter, Cheyenne, is 16 now. Growing up she was a happy child. When she was young she had friends that would have her over and she did Sparks and Brownies. But, by the time she was in Guides they did not want to help her.
Now Cheyenne is at high school. She is a very alone person. She has friends at school, but she doesn’t hang out with them after school or on the weekends. She’s always by herself instead of at the mall or at parties like other teenagers. She plays on FaceBook and says that is her friend.
I know now that Cheyenne is older it is probably up to me to help her have friends. But I have diverse abilities too and this part is hard for me. I wish there were more supports for mothers like me.
David and I have been asking Cheyenne what she wants to do after high school. These are hard questions for her to answer. She’s looking to us to tell her what she wants. We can’t give her the answers. We know she’s interested in police work and orca whales. I hope we can help her get close to her dreams.
I have been thinking a lot about what I want for her when she’s ready to move out. I like the idea of her sharing a home with another family or girls a bit older who have the same interests as her. It is hard thinking about her growing up. I need to step back and let her do things for herself like order her pills and make hair appointments.
Her teenager attitude is strong and fierce. It is hard for us to know what is part of her disability and what is just hormones and being a teenager.
Cheyenne is in grade 11. She has one more year of school. Some parents choose for their kid to do an extra 13th year, but what if she isn’t getting the support she needs at school? Will it be any different than now?
I am worried about her. Will she be ok and happy with what she chooses to do in the long run? What I want most is for her to be happy with herself and for people to understand her and help her to get to her goals. People need to know her goals will change as she changes. I want there to be people that she can trust and count on. I want her to be proud and open and not hide from who she is.
If other families are reading this please know it’s ok to share your story. Stand up for what you need. Tell your children with diverse abilities it is ok to be who you are and stand up for what you need. Your voice can be powerful if used the right way.
I can say this because I am person with a disability and I am happy with myself and where I am in life. I work. I have a family. We have enough money for a home, food and other things we need.
I only hope my daughter will be able to write these same words when she is my age.