Parenting special needs kids
I think we would all agree that being a parent is one of the hardest and most amazing things anyone could do. That being said, it takes something extra to parent "special" kids. You need to be "more" all the time. More patient, more observant, more loving, more flexible, stronger, tougher, smarter than the average 'rent to help your kids grow and develop in their own way.
Any other parents like me out there?
I have three kids, My daugher is 15 mo, speech delayed, but neurotypical.
my boys, 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 are both Autistic, my middle son is non verbal, and the oldest is just now starting potty training.
I have many friends with kids similar in ages to my own, but no one really gets what it takes to get through the day at our house. Their kids talk, dress themselves, toilet themselves, take karate, piano and the list goes on. I'm happy when my son says "go" to get me to do something, its his only spoken word so far.
We celebrate the littlest things as if they were the biggest achievements. Sometimes they are. I actually cried the first time my oldest peed on the toilet, I was cheering so hard! He was 4 years and 9 months old.
No one deserves more respect than parents of special needs children. I have worked with many families during the past eight years doing ABA and every mother I met was absolutley amazing!! I would never make the mistake of knowing what it is like, but I can not believe how strong some parents could be!!! Every child I have worked with has had trouble sleeping through the night, so parents can be sleep deprived for years, constantly advocating for their children's rights against schools, insurance companies, having behavior therapists in their homes for 30-40 hours every week and on and on.....Every single mother I have met does all these things with the sweetest, fullest, love and appreciation. Mothers like you, GFM hold a special place in my heart and on days when I'm feeling run-down or negativie I think of the endless energy and love I have seen!!
I hold a special place in my heart for all the amazing children I have worked with, each one brings a warm smile to my face. I have been brought to tears over accomplishments like potty training, (after hours in the bathroom for "potty parties") the first independent verbal imitations, and I could go on....these kiddos are working from sun-up to sun-down, sweet little darlings!!!
So no GFMom I can not relate, (no one can that isn't a parent to a child affected by special needs,) but I can say that I admire and look up to you!!!! Mothers like you are my heros!!!!
I'm a mom, and a pediatric occupational therapist... & I give you ninety-million kudos for (basically) being able to do both jobs at once!
I can't speak to parenting a special needs kiddo, but from my experience working with autistic preschoolers I can tell you that progress can come in leaps and bounds... It's not always a steady upward curve, like for non-autistic kids-- for example, one 5-year-old I knew went from imitating directional lines straight to writing his full name, skipping right over the coloring and shape-drawing that most kids do. I love working with autistic students because of that beautiful moment, when you can see the 'Aha!' each time a new skill emerges...
Have you guys heard of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)? In my opinion, it's the bomb-diggity-cat's-meow-bee's-knees, when it comes to helping nonverbal kids on the spectrum make sense of the world...
My kid's barely still a kid, these days-- filled out college apps last night (sigh!)-- but I remember how often I felt like my energy levels were WOEFULLY inadequate, compared to his preschool boisterousness...bet you have that feeling a lot, but more so... but, damn, that was the best job I ever had!
PECS can be a great tool for nonverbal children with Autism; I have seen behavioral therapy do many great things for many children!
I have seen behavioral therapy do many great things for many children!
...AND occupational therapy! (They go so well together...)
OH WOW, I just saw this thread and have to post! GFVM, you're amazing. I have so much respect for you.
My younger brothers (twins) are both Autistic, one is non-verbal and has mild CP and both need assistance with everyday things like eating, getting dressed, bathing, etc. My younger sister (who is adopted) also has very serious developmental delays and is non-verbal. I've always been in awe of my mother, who has devoted herself to taking care of three big people with special needs. We have a unique family and we really, really love each other. I totally understand what you mean about the incredible rewards of seeing a kid with more challenges than most achieve even small victories.
I have a lot of fun with my siblings...today we all hung out, watched Kung Fu Panda and ate veggie burgers (our Mom had a doctor's appt)! They're my favorite people.