Special Needs Parenting: Hang in there, it gets easier!

Special Needs Caregiver Burnout

Overwhelmed ParentDon’t Worry! Let me assure you that life will get easier.  When my daughter was young, I was sure that life as I once knew it was over.

Kids will be Kids

Going to the grocery store with two toddlers seemed impossible.  One of my children could not walk and the other child was running away from me.  When I got too close to the shelf of cans my daughter cleared the entire shelf of cans with one arm.  As I bent down to pick them up, my son ran away from me.

Later that day, I spoke with our educational advocate at The ARC.  I told her that I was sure I would never be able to go to a grocery store again.  She laughed and said, “You know, not all of your daughter’s behaviors are related to having disabilities.  She is a toddler.  She will naturally outgrow many of these behaviors as she matures.”  She was right.

Less Appointments

When my daughter was young, my days were full of meetings with new doctors and trying several different therapies. We were unsure about what caused her delays and I was determined to find someone to help her.  Now that she is older, I know what helps her based upon my years of prior experiences. Thus her routine is set and that means less doctors appointments.

School Routines

After years of listening to “advice” from several teachers and therapists and getting conflicting opinions, I started looking for the best practices and policies based on research.  Teaching is a profession based on research.  My daughter needs a great education based on the latest research. Needing lessons and classrooms rich with language, our focus changed to finding the best materials and technology available to include her in the lessons–rather than moving her somewhere else.

Bringing conversations back to educationally sound, researched practices sheltered us from people giving their opinions that our daughter “belonged” somewhere else.  This held our course for an inclusive, research-based experience for our daughter.  The opinions of others no longer disrupted our path.  Our daughter’s happiness and growth in our neighborhood school showed us that our work was definitely worth our efforts.

Mobility Provides Freedom

I need equipment that helps me to easily bring my daughter everywhere I want to go.  People at the hospital that specialize in wheelchairs and seating are a wonderful resource for me!  A jogger stroller big enough to accommodate my daughter into adulthood, a wheelchair, and an adaptive bike (made for two) gives me the freedom to bring my daughter with me as I enjoy the activities that I was missing.

You’re going to miss this…

I met a mother with a grown son with disabilities.  How did she do it?  Sadly she told me that she wished she had enjoyed him more when he was young.  She felt there was so much worry in her days that she didn’t take enough time to enjoy his childhood.

This Too Shall Pass

My daughter is 14 years old this month.  There are still days and weeks that seem almost impossible to manage.  However, with years of perspective I know that these days and weeks will pass and a calmness will follow.  If you have a young child with disabilities, let me tell you something I wish someone had told me–I promise, life will get easier.

Jennifer

Written on 2011/12/30 by:

Jennifer

Jennifer Greening, Ed.S. is the author of Opening Doors, Opening Lives: Creating awareness of advocacy, inclusion, and education for our children with special needs. Her book is used in university classes across the country. It received positive reviews from the Autism Society of Michigan and was awarded 2010 Best Books Award Finalist by USA Book News. Visit her website at www.jennifergreeningbooks.com.