I’ve owned a Victorinox Swiss Army pocket knife like this since a school trip to Switzerland more years ago than I care to remember. Over all of those years I’ve used it a lot, or rather I’ve used most of it a lot.

When I was looking at it a few days ago, something struck me, and made me stop and think. There’s a tool on the Swiss Army pocket knife that I hadn’t used so much; in fact, I wasn’t even sure what it was for. The thing next to the corkscrew, with an odd blade, a sharp point, and a hole in the middle. So I asked some people I knew: some thought it was for taking stones out of horses’ hooves, or for trimming nails, or even a scribe to score paper or card. As I thought about this some more, I realized that the Swiss Army pocket knife, and the particular tool I was looking at, makes a great metaphor for many of us who care about children and young people with special needs or disability.

We all need to have a toolkit of things available to us to help everyone we are caring for; we need to be versatile and agile; we need to multi-task. And we all have that one thing that nobody else understands, nobody else knows how to do, that we get instinctively, and can do naturally.

A Swiss Army pocket knife, being a knife, has to have a blade. Often in the special or additional needs world, we need to be able to cut through the red tape, to slice through the bureaucracy, to get the support, provision or funding that our child needs.

Then there is the saw. Sometimes it feels like overnight a thicket of barriers has grown around us, making it hard to get anywhere, to do anything. The answer is always “no,” or always “you don’t meet the criteria” (which constantly change). We have to continually work to open up a way through these barriers, never giving up, always holding on to hope.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who sometimes wonders if they have a screw loose, as they keep on struggling to make a difference for their child and others. But all of these children are worth it, they need us to have a screwdriver in our toolkit to keep ourselves together and on-track.

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Source: Special Needs Parenting- Key Ministry

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