Caring for a Special Needs Child
Being a parent is hard. Being a parent to a child with extra needs is extra hard. For the last month I’ve been caring for a special needs child. It’s very interesting being on this side of the fence as I’m the one who’s normally the person who’s bringing to a parent’s attention that their child is not reaching developmental milestones for their age group or displaying atypical behavior.
I’ve often encouraged families to seek early intervention services. The response varies from person to person, some positive, some negative. “It’s not terminal,” I would tell them. Now I wonder if that was the appropriate response.
As a new primary caregiver of a special needs child, I realize parents of autistic children face so much judgement and criticism from others.
I’m just gonna say it – sometimes autism looks like bad, undisciplined kids. The truth of the matter is autistic kids cannot control their emotions as well as others, and children with sensory disorders sometimes have big reactions to small changes or sounds. They can’t help it, and most times the parents can’t control it.
Another way families are judged comes via suggesting treatments and medications for your autistic child. I get it because I’m guilty of doing the same. You think you’re trying to help or show your friend that you’ve taken an interest in the subject, but quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what you’ve read in a magazine or googled. The average person has absolutely no idea the amount of research we conduct, the specialists we consult, or the amount of trial and error involved in finding what works best for our child.
Caring for a special needs child can be exhausting. This week I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed and feel like my brain is saying, “all circuits are busy. Please try again later.” Some days are better than others, but truthfully some days you can’t handle it and you’re ready to throw in the towel. That’s difficult for someone like me who’s “supposed” to be balancing everything well.
Caring for an autistic child can also be extra rewarding and will most certainly make life extra interesting. With the challenges come the rewards. I read somewhere that parenting a child with extra needs is like a marathon. For those folks who are trying to win a marathon, there are no breaks. If you want to stay in the race, you eat, drink and even use the bathroom while running.
My situation is only temporary, but to those full-time parents of autistic children I encourage you to stay in the race and remember: you don’t need to win, just make it to the end.