Attention special needs parents! It’s time for you to mourn the loss of your traditional ideas of raising a child. How dare you?! How dare you say that? Mourn what? My child is a beautiful gift! And he/she is. I’m not saying otherwise. What I am saying is…it’s okay to mourn the life you wanted for your child before you knew about his/her special needs.
My son has sensory processing disorder. It means that with all the senses in our crazy world, his brain doesn’t know how to process them. He gets overly excited, can run around crazily or just start crying. He doesn’t know how to handle it and could not excel in his regular preschool class. He is in a special education class. This does not define him, it’s just what he needs to help him deal with everyday life.
So I understand. No matter what makes your child a little different, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to mourn. Maybe mourn is a bit extreme for you, but have a good cry. And you will probably feel much better when you do. I used to feel so guilty for thinking that. But I realized I don’t need to. It wasn’t that I wished for a different child. Keegan is amazingly sweet and smart and if he was nuero-typical he might not be. I love exactly who Keegan is. All of him. But I felt guilty for feeling sad. I felt sad for the things that are pretty much a given to typical kids, that I was no longer sure was going to be possible. Of course I was going to push and do everything possible to get him into all the things I was worried about. But I also don’t want to try to make him something he’s not.
You don’t realize all the things you worry about as a parent of a child limited physically or mentally, things that are normal to most children. Will they ever be mainstreamed in school? Will they be able to walk? Sports? College? Living on their own? Life without occupational therapy? Boyfriend/girlfriend? Kids? Marriage? Will they even want these things?
Mourn it out. It’s not selfish. It’s actually selfless. To be worried about your children and to want more for them, is selfless. What will my child be able to do? Typical children at least get the opportunity to do everything that follows the “normal social path.” But the future of our kids is unknown. You should not feel bad for being sad about what your child might be missing out on. What I have learned though is that they don’t know what they are missing out on. Or they may know and feel like they aren’t missing out at all. We just don’t know.
I think that is the hardest part. Not knowing. The hardest struggle is being a “typical” person with a special needs child. Because you literally don’t know how to help. You don’t know how they feel, or what their concerns are. You don’t know if your pushing them is helping or hurting. It is a little upsetting when you realize that you have to have people that don’t even know your child, teach you how to help them. Like why can’t I figure out how to help him? You just don’t know all the answers. Accepting help from someone that is a professional doesn’t make you any less of a parent. Not knowing the answers doesn’t either. New things pop into my head all the time where I wonder “is Keegan even going to want to do that in the future?” For example, even today I wondered if throwing a big 5th birthday party is even a good idea. Is that something he can handle? All the people on top of the noise and overload of wherever we have it? Should I do something different? Nemo invited us to Halloweekends at Cedar Point, would Keegan even enjoy it? People popping out to scare us? I think not, but it’s always different with him.
Trust me guys, you aren’t the only ones that are 95% sure you are royally screwing your kids up. You aren’t the only ones that question all of your actions. And P.S….it’s okay to feel a little bad for yourself too. Shhh…I won’t tell. It is exhausting. You have to be the advocate for your child for a long time. For some people, it’s a lifetime.
But because of all these uncertainties every accomplishment is a huge win! You take a lot less for granted. Of course we are strong boisterous fans of our amazing kids! Just get that cry out and as Felipe (Bye Felipe!) from my job says….truck forward!
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net