When I was pregnant and we learned our first child was a boy, we
named him Joseph to replace the broad TP (The Pregnancy or Teddy’s
Pal, depending on whether we were with a doctor or talking with the

Joseph was to be a first child, but he became an only child when we
realized how complex his medical problems were and that his long-
term outlook was uncertain. I’ve written about Joseph a lot over the
years, how his early problems brought us closer as parents and at the
same time exposed key differences in perspective between us (I am
more pessimistic, Jeff more optimistic) and how Joseph has surprised
us by evolving from a near mute, speech-delayed child to a joyful, if decidedly atypical, teenager who talks constantly, loves life and
believes he, and everyone else, is wonderful.

Two essays about living life as an atypical family (atypical child is the
politically correct term for a child with special needs) are “What
dreams become”
and “Four tails of a dog and their boy.”

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There is much that cannot
be cured, but when we
bring balance to our lives,
we heal. Joseph is not
typical, but he is whole.

The day before I wrote this text, Joseph sent me an e-mail that he had
learned all about nouns. When I called his teacher to say I had sent a
reply in time for him to read it before the end of the school day (in it I
described what Angus did in his dog agility class that morning and
asked Joseph to identify the nouns), she said he had successfully
described nouns as parts of speech and recognized all of them in test
sentences independently, with the exception of one sentence that had
multiple nouns and he missed one. He is 15 years old.

When he was 7 years old, we were told in a definitive tone by educators
that he would never learn to read or write. He can’t print because of
neurological problems, but he is fine on a keyboard and reads well on
a Kindle (an e-reader) that frees him from the need to turn pages.

Here is a selection of photos of Joseph. As with so many children,
he hasn’t grown as we expected, but he is growing successfully. 
We’re proud to be his parents.

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