As we transition from summer to fall, the number of vacations and times at the cabin decrease. Students have returned to school. It is a time of change . It is expressed by a sense of newness, and at times, uncertainty. Change is inevitable.  

Everyone responds to change in a different manner. Some welcome it. Others dread it. Some embrace it. Still others resist it. Whatever your response is, none of us cannot avoid encountering reversals at some point in our lives. However, for those who confront the world of disability, change can be both frightening and overwhelming.  

Many of us live with some degree of physical or cognitive impairment or know someone that does. Whatever your story entails, the onset or progression of a disability involves challenges that are not readily welcomed. Any adverse changes are difficult to both understand and accept. Life doesn't seem fair. The future is unknown.

On a personal note, my beloved grandmother suffered several TIAs or mini strokes before succumbing to a major stroke that took her life at 90 years of age. Her life consisted of investing and engaging in meaningful relationships with friends and family. She had a sharp mind and a unique sense of humor. Watching the debilitating effects of her condition reinforced my resistance to accepting the changes in her.  

In my professional life, I have observed how particular changes in the lives of the elderly and those with special needs can be challenging at best. Many clients often share with me many of the burdens they carry. The majority once had excellent health, fulfilling careers, strong marriages, meaningful relationships, favorite hobbies, and other aspects that make for a rewarding life.  

Living with special needs has transformed their lives and those close to them. Several inherent changes occur as a result a temporary or permanent disability. A life of independence to dependence. Relative financial stability to significant loss of income. Physical and/or mental health to impairment. Comfortable family roles to ones that are new and unfamiliar. The list goes on….  

We know that many of life’s adverse events are inevitable and unpredictable. They are not always the consequences of poor choices. However, we can choose how we respond to them. You may ask, "What purposes are there in my new circumstances?" or "What possible good can come out of this?"

In my next newsletter, I will share 5 ways I have seen individuals and families adapt and adjust to disability without giving up or losing hope. We will examine several attitudes and coping strategies that are meant to bring a greater understanding of purpose in the midst of a disability.