Happy birthday to our cover kid, Tripp! This happy boy will celebrate his big first birthday in November.

Tripp was all smiles at our shoot for the cover of this month's issue of Little Rock Family in which we focus on special families.

Before they visited our studio, we asked his mom Nicole about special needs parenting, the best advice she’s ever received and her parenting hopes.

We are thankful for her thoughtful answers and we think you will be, too. Be sure to check out the links below to learn more about some other extraordinary families.

What’s one thing you wish all parents knew about raising a child with special needs?
One thing I would want all parents to know about raising a child with special needs is that they are more alike than they are different. They really are just like you and me. They laugh, they cry, they smile, they play and most importantly they love just like you and me.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from a fellow special needs parent?
The best advice I have received from special needs parents is to never limit Tripp. He can do anything any typical child can do. It might take a little longer, but that’s okay. I like the quote, “See the able, not the label.”

What is Tripp’s favorite activity?
Tripp’s favorite activity would have to be spending time with his big brothers and sisters, he would pick talking and playing with them over any toy ever. His face instantly lights up with a huge smile when they walk in the room.

What makes Tripp laugh?
Tripp honestly has the most pure personality — he matches energy. If you are happy he will smile, if you laugh he will crack up laughing. If you are sad, he feels that also. He is an amazing little guy!

What are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to so much with Tripp, but I’d say I look forward to just watching him grow, learn, and explore life like any other child. I look forward to him beating so many odds while all of his siblings are there beside him cheering him on!

Special Success

Heather Honaker visited with four family members of children with special needs for this month's special focus. They offered tips from their personal experience on what they did right in raising a special needs child – and what they wish they could do again. Here's Heather with more:

We got a Down syndrome (DS) diagnosis before our daughter was born and I was devastated. I had never spent any time with anyone who had special needs. I was afraid her life would be so much less than and I worried about her effect on our family. 

In an effort to help, my husband scheduled coffee for the two of us to meet with another mom of a child with DS. She brought photos of her son in the hospital, talked about early intervention and shared his path to college. I left that meeting hopeful and scheduled time with two more moms. The acquaintances giving advice turned into close friends and cheerleaders.

I still seek out new parents to talk with to continue my education. I recently talked with four families about their thoughts on successful special needs parenting.

More from this month's issue: