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Navigating the Sunrise: My Family’s Journey with Unseen Special Abilities

Raising a child with special abilities can be an unpredictable journey full of ups and downs. When my son Ridge was born, I thought he was a “typical” child, but around his second year of life, some developmental delays became noticeable. It took many years and a happenstance encounter with another child who resembled my son and was diagnosed with 22q deletion for me to come out of denial and fully understand Ridge’s condition. The hidden nature of Ridge’s special ability is precisely why awareness and understanding are so critical.

The Lightning Strike Diagnosis

When our second son Nash was born, we received his Down syndrome diagnosis just a few minutes after his birth. Because of its speed, it felt like a lightning strike. I was completely blindsided and unprepared to handle that news. The traumatic way we were informed about Nash’s special ability made me determined to avoid a repeat experience. I found myself constantly on high alert for any potential issues when Andrea became pregnant with Ridge two years later. 

Ridge’s birth brought initial relief and joy when the doctor declared him a healthy baby boy. But looking back, I still held an underlying paranoia that something might be wrong during that first year. Though subtle developmental delays eventually surfaced, I avoided confronting my worst fears. 

The Wake Up Call    

At two years old, Ridge experienced a seizure that stopped his breathing, requiring emergency response. Thankfully Ridge recovered, but alarms rang in my mind. Andrea swiftly scheduled appointments discovering Ridge had a hole in his soft palate preventing speech. Surgery easily corrected this anatomical issue, but testing also revealed a diagnosis of 22q11 deletion syndrome. Rather than research the implications, I clung to the doctor’s advice to simply raise Ridge normally without worrying. I chose to remain blissfully unaware for years as Ridge quietly struggled at school. 

A Moment of Clarity   

While volunteering at a Colombian orphanage for people entrusted with special abilities, I met a selfless teenager named Angel who closely resembled Ridge. When I learned Angel had 22q11 deletion and longed to be adopted, puzzle pieces clicked. I finally committed to understanding Ridge’s condition. My research uncovered difficult truths:

  • The majority of individuals with 22q deletion confront obstacles with independent living and marriage – 85% do not get married
  • Schizophrenia manifests in 25% of 22q cases

Ridge’s poor math skills and money management challenges were clearly connected. I’ve grappled with remorse over lost early intervention opportunities, but feel empowered charting a new course.

Navigating Hidden Special Abilities 

At 14, Ridge moved to special education classes thriving in the adapted environment. But unlike Down syndrome, Ridge’s 22q deletion remains mostly unseen by society with expectations for Ridge unchanged. This hidden special ability means we must fiercely advocate for Ridge and help others understand what he is going through. We chose to share Ridge’s story to build awareness and compassion openly. Our mission is equipping Ridge to sing his unique song, not what the world demands. We’re blessed to support Ridge’s divine purpose during this sunrise after years trapped in denial’s darkness.  

Traversing a special ability diagnosis is filled with twists and turns – no two journeys are identical. But one fact remains consistent: when we take the time to see each child as the gift they are meant to be instead of only what appears to be broken or different, miracles happen. 

My hope is that all of us to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to those with special abilities that remain unseen. Make an effort to learn their stories, understand their struggles, and encourage their dreams. Together we can build a community where everyone feels accepted, empowered, and valued for who they are.

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