I Am An Open Book.

Yesterday I received a few thank-yous in the mail from students at the local high school after a visit to their childhood education classes recently. When I was first invited, I accepted quickly but then thought to myself, “what will I talk about with high school students?” I was used to chatting with younger kids at various book readings and school visits. But what could I share that would have any value with a high school group?


In getting more info from the teacher (whom I had met at a past reading), she suggested anything and everything would be interesting to them – from my pregnancy to birth to triplet babies to special needs and therapy to cerebral palsy and anything in between.  OK, I thought, I can do this.

Initially, I expected I would just get up there and start talking. I had an idea of what to talk about. And I’ve always considered myself someone who does better ‘off the cuff’, without too much prep. In the past, if I’ve prepped too much, then I end up ‘reading’ slides or I mess myself up in some way by being so focused on relaying all the right info in the right order.


But this time, I wanted to prepare. And it forced me to go through a lot of Ben’s past videos and photos to decide what I would show.  

I wanted to show NICU photos, after talking about the risks and care of micro-preemies.

I wanted to show him in his Lite Gate at therapy … taking actual steps, after talking about the benefits and importance of weight-bearing and bone development in kids that don’t have typical movement patterns.

I wanted to show him using two Big Macks to make choices in speech therapy, after talking about how a Big Mack can give a child a voice and it can be an early step in learning communication. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMhRYGW5CEs

I wanted to show him using a switch toy, after talking about the importance of play for ALL kids and having accessible or adapted toys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_jcHTyFoq8

I wanted to show him racing his siblings down the hall, him in his UpSee, the fun they had and the HUGE smile this basic movement brought to his face.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahEZEIqMjsM

The students’ notes to me thanked me for being so ‘inspirational’ and for sharing my story. I have to say I never set out to be inspirational in this journey. I simply wanted to keep my boy alive, talk about him and share him with others – whether it was through Ben Smiles or through the Book.

He was (and still is) my inspiration. His determination and his ABILITY in these videos and in his life make me smile every time and make me so so very proud of him, even today. ALL Kids Can Play & Dream. 

TODAY.com Parenting Team Parenting Contributor