Years ago, when my child was first diagnosed, I had a friend who ran a 'shmiras haloshon' group and also had a special child.
I called her to tell her my bad news. "Hi", I tried to act cheerful, "I've just joined your club."
"Oh how nice," she replied. "Welcome to our 'shmiras haloshon' group."
"No", I sighed. "Maybe if I would have joined that one, I wouldn't be joining this one."
That was many hard years ago. By now I have come to the realization that 'Hashem' has not given me this special 'nisoyon' because I am more sinful than others, and neither because I am a saint. This is all part of 'Hashem's' Divine Plan for the universe, way beyond human comprehension.
In retrospect, I can say that when one gets this special 'nisoyon' you are no better or worse than the average person, but over the years of pain, hope, frustration and trying to cope, slowly but surely you are molded into a better person.
There is a vast difference between the mother of a special child and a mother who is 'B"H' blessed with all healthy normal children which sets them worlds apart. The mother of a special child has such a deep sense of appreciation and 'hakoras hatov' to 'Hashem' for her normal children. She marvels at the way they blossom and grow and reach new milestones almost effortlessly. On the other hand she cannot really enjoy them because she is inhibited by her problems, pain and sorrow.
To sum it all up, she has much less 'Olam Hazeh' than others, derives much less enjoyment is 'gashmiasdig' everyday life, has a keener sense of 'hakoras hatov' and a much closer 'kesher' to 'Hashem.' Therefore she is special indeed.
This article first appeared in issue #3 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us