I recently took a physical for life insurance purposes. My nurse was kind and polite and when I was asked why do I take an anti-depressant when your otherwise healthy? I simply replied “I’m a special needs parent who’s always advocating, teaching, learning, researching, and loving my family I have to cope somehow.”
The look of surprise that crossed his face was something that I’ve seen before. I’ve had people ask me how do you do it, deal with autism, ADHD, ODD, SPD, and a genetic neurological disorder that affects everything from motor skills, to recessive language delay, to selective eating issues due to textures, smells, and shapes of food.
I have no other answer other than I don’t think about it I just do it. All of it needs to be done always. I need to advocate for my children so that they can have access to resources, funding, and therapy inside the school system and outside within the community. I need to keep up with the latest research on my son’s genetic disorder so I know how to help him specifically and what other co-morbidities I need to be aware of. I also need to teach him about number and letter recognition so he can begin to print what he knows. I have to deal with regression as it’s the part of his brain that’s affected by his micro-duplication.
I need to check, double check and help my son re-learn when he’s lost his ability to process what he’s learning in school. He’s come a long way with his progress from screaming if I tried to help him hold a crayon in preschool to printing his name confidently in elementary school. Now his world’s growing bigger as he attempts to make sense of all those letters on the page and learn to read. I remember what joy I felt when my Mom introduced the magical world of books to me.
I long to see that light in my son’s eyes that I know appeared in mine. Yet I see him stumble on three and four letter words and in frustration throw the book across the room. At the moment we’re working on his reading comprehension so that he can create the story from what he sees illustrated on the page. As for the phonics and word recognition I’m using a multi-sensory approach as well as his special education resources teacher does in the classroom.
1. First I print the word then I get him to to tell me the letters and we sound it out and say it together.
2. Next I have him build it with his alphabet letters on the line below.
3. After he prints the word with his pencil.
4. Then we go over the word and use it in a sentence and repeat with the remaining words.
Sometimes he only has enough patience for three words but to me it’s quality over quantity. I learned the Write, build, print method from an amazing website called Understood. I love this website as I now have a resource that’s there to help us both on our learning journey.
When I see the furrow in my son’s brow as he concentrates to maintain his alligator grip on his pencil I marvel at his independence. He sings a little song as he does so. Alligator grip then my pencil doesn’t slip. Then when he’s completed his task his beautiful smile makes his whole face light up. I’m excited to incorporate building Lego into his learning as we work on math next.
I have five months to prepare him to catch up with his peers and continue onto the next grade. He has an excellent team at school who’ve been there to help with his frustrations, transitions with the use of visuals and successes. My son teaches me just as much as I’m teaching him this why I choose medication for myself and seeking the guidance of a therapist.
No parent is an island and it takes a village to raise a child. When it’s a child with special needs it takes strength, courage, and a bigger, non-judgemental village. I need to be able to cope with this roller coaster of a life we lead. I need to stay on task and ten steps ahead of a sensory overloaded meltdown. Most importantly I need to take care of myself and repair what I feel is broken. My mental health and the well being of my children depend on it.
Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!