“I have learned from my children to look at people and not judge them.”
“In the beginning I wanted to change it,” she admitted. “I was jealous of parents who wished their kids would be quiet, when I just wanted my kids to put two words together.”
The prognosis was very bad when a phalanx of specialists diagnosed Samuel at age 3.
“They told us that there was absolutely no hope. We were told to consider looking for placement [in an institution] and that it was unlikely he would get out of diapers,” Maccarone recalled. “It was the most difficult thing that I have ever had to live through in my whole life. Samuel had to have 40 hours of therapy a week. Then, we had to do it all over again [two years later], when Bianca was diagnosed.”
Today, Maccarone wants to let other parents living through the same thing today that there is hope.
“You can survive this,” she said. “Don’t give up. You’re going to be fine and your children will be ok.”
Today, both Samuel and Bianca go to school unaccompanied. Paradoxically, their remarkable progress makes the work that they have to do to achieve it less conspicuous.
“I look at my kids and I know how meaningful it is for them to be able to contribute,” Maccarone explained, “because they have to work ten times harder than anyone else.”
“Samuel might come home from a challenging day at school where the academics were really tough for him,” she said. “He’s happy to sit down at the table and do three hours of work without complaint until he works it out, because he’s so eager to do a good job. There are a lot of challenges and, in Quebec, there is the added challenge because of growing up bilingual or trilingual.”
Observe before judging
Her children are also very good at coping when, inevitably, other kids are cruel.
“Samuel and Bianca will go back to school the next day and have unconditionally forgiven them, still want to be their friends and move on,” Maccarone said. “I have learned from them to look at people and not judge them.”
They’ve taught me to persevere and help others,” she added. “They put me on the path toward seeing what I could do for education.”
“It makes a big difference,” she concluded. “It really does. If I could go back and change it, I wouldn’t.”
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