This past few weeks have been stinky for us. Some days it seemed like the very people I thought would be understanding of my sons differences- have not.
Most days like these I just laugh and ignore it. Yes, i laugh: I refuse to cry. This is one way to deal with it. Plus, there are so many more important things to concentrate on. So, many more good things to let fill my head about my beautiful son than the judgement of others.
But the past few weeks have unfolded several comments, looks, incidences all unkind and all concerning our little family. It was enough to send me on a search to my favorite blogs post about special needs parenting.
I read other parents points of view about this topic. It helps me remember I’m not alone.
As I read I began a list in my head of all the things that Parents of special needs kids wished for from family to strangers for their child.
- An extra helping hand
- An ear to listen
All the great posts, letters, and articles I read were basically about specific times a parent felt like their child(ren) were not accepted by another person for the BEAUTIFUL souls they are.
I realize now more than ever I can talk about how the numbers of autism are rising, what the criteria for Sensory Processing Disorder is, how Auditory Processing effects the ability to follow directions, or explain why PJ has trouble doing x,y,z…. til the cows come home. Am I rambling??
The sad and maddening truth for me is Awareness is not enough! My little Buddy needs to be ACCEPTED for the smiling, fun, active, HARD working kid he is. (.)
The majority of the time people do show acceptance towards him and me as his mother.
But then there are those days like the days of the last few weeks.
We’ve both been met with judgement and ridicule. And I will leave it at that so as not to have to explain my parenting him or my sons difficulties in detail…one more time.
I’m not going to give up on humanity, though.
I’m bent on being proactive for his sake.
These last few weeks I had to believe people truly have had good intentions towards us. And that they are only trying to help. If you are interested in making a difference on a special needs family’s life – I wrote this with my own experiences in mind.
Ways to Show a Special Needs Family ACCEPTANCE
1). Dont assume: There is nothing worse to a special needs parent OR a special needs child than to be expected to act a certain way when it is not possible. When behavior isn’t possible but is pushed on or expected of the child, the child can have a traumatic experience. Sounds simple, right?? I can not tell you how many times others have assumed that since my son can talk and follow directions, that he can process or understand the meaning of any verbal direction. Wrong. Many children with special needs have trouble processing direction for one reason or another. It may be a problem with the exact wording of the direction, the number of syllables in the wording, your tone of voice, over stimulation of their environment, processing time, physical handicap that you cant see, an experience that happened before you gave a direction, ect. My point is that the possibilities are too numerous for even an “experienced” person to know and so one should NEVER assume.
2). Ask Questions: Lately Ive read that moms would welcome your questions about their child. Asking questions is a the best way to get to know their child. It shows you are truly interested in understanding. Besides, many moms would love the chance to chat. It’s been hard for me to “stay in the loop” with friends and family. In the past my loop has mostly consisted of Therapists, doctors, teachers, and support groups for parents just like me. There was hardly time to talk on the phone with loved ones or go out for coffee with a friend. Yes, ask questions.
3). Loose the Judgement: Again this sounds simple. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all, right?
I can say that being a special needs parent has its ups and downs just like being a parent of a typical kid. (I should know, I’m both.) So before you think to yourself a judgemental thought please remember this: Our typical… is not your typical….
On a given day I may be proud of my son for sitting on the floor of the store and reading a book. Books help him regulate (calm down) in a number of situations. It’s a self regulation skill and I for one am so glad he has learned to do this on his own. He is not hurting anyone/thing by sitting on the floor and reading something from the store rack. Still, I notice your judgement of the tall kid plopped on the floor in the store. He notices ,too.
4). Be supportive: There are a number of things you can do for a special needs family but how do you know what to do? Honestly, every family is unique in what they need. It may be that one family would love for you to visit with a hot meal and another may shudder at the thought of how their child may handle a visitor. (I’ve been in both positions here,too.) In this case you could leave dinner on the steps. When in question you can always ask how you can help.
More ways to help a special needs family:
- Offer to give them a ride to a therapy or doctors appointment. -I would be so thankful to have company to talk with me about my sons doctors visit or be able to organize my thoughts with less stress before hand.
- Offer to sit the kiddos. – It maybe super helpful to a special needs parent to have this time to clean, nap, or prepare for a doctor visit. It’s an even bigger plus if you can sit in their home so the parent isn’t worried about a their child handling a transition outside the familiar environment of home.
- Donate used clothing- now you may think this is great for a needy family but this is AWESOME to a special needs parent who avoids shopping for the kids sake!!
There is so much to be said about ACCEPTANCE. I for one could write a series on the subject. For now, I sincerely hope that my words have touch someone’s heart out..Possibly warmed a few.
Thank you soo much for taking the time to read!
Crystal and PJ 🙂
Places I may share: