photo of Amy Julia and Penny standing in front of a marsh with water, grass, and blue sky behind them

Our Love for Each Other Matters Most

What matters most is our love for each other.

Yesterday I had a chance to meet with two different groups of people from around the nation and around the globe—California, Canada, Georgia, Connecticut, Germany, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin, and more—for the inaugural session of Reimagining Family Life with Disability. Most of them were parents of children with Down syndrome or autism (or a dual diagnosis of both). Some of their kids were toddlers; others were navigating the transition to adulthood.

I was so grateful for all the different responses to the material we covered about the cultural messages and scholarly models of disability and what can be helpful and harmful about them. But what struck me most was the importance of our relationships and how we treat each other.

I shared an article with the evening group from the New York Times about “super-agers,” people who have not experienced the typical cognitive decline as they age. The researchers were surprised when they could only find one thing that linked these super-agers together.

“Some exercised regularly, but some never had; some stuck to a Mediterranean diet, others subsisted off TV dinners; and a few of them still smoked cigarettes. However, one consistency among the group was that they tended to have strong social relationships…”

The same is true for us as parents, and neighbors, and siblings, and friends. The health of our bodies and minds and spirits begins and ends with relationships. Yes, the advice of the experts can help our kids with disabilities. The visits to therapists and the latest trends in research matter. But what matters most is the social connections within our families and our communities. Friendship, love, connection—we don’t need to be experts to give these to one another. I was grateful to be reminded of that simple truth.


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