Mom with ALS: My disease will make my daughter stronger

Story highlights

  • Sarah Coglianese was diagnosed with ALS in her early 30s
  • At 5, her daughter, Scarlett, "is far more self-sufficient than I am"

Sarah Coglianese is a writer living in San Francisco. Her work has been published in The New York Times and Redbook Magazine, and she blogs regularly at

(CNN)My daughter was an energetic and fearless kid who our doctor had declared would be walking before her first birthday. It came and went, and Scarlett still wasn't toddling on two feet. To balance any concern, I would say things like, "It's not like she's going to be crawling into junior high."

Sure enough, one spring day when she was 15 months, she popped up in the backyard and marched across the grass to a host of cheers and shrieks, mainly coming from me.
A month later, I began to fall for no apparent reason. Crossing a busy street in boots one evening, I found myself on the ground six times. In flip-flops, I fell up and down stairs as though I was practicing for clown school. While my daughter's walking improved each week, mine, it seemed, was on an opposite trajectory.
    I tried running, my favorite activity. I never got far before it became clear tha