This weekend we had a hard Asperger's Day. Friday night he threw a three-hour fit. Luckily the next day he was rather calm and very pleasant. It seems to be the way it goes.
As I look back on Friday I have to ask myself what I could have done differently. I look at what choices I made that led to it. How it could have been prevented and what I can do in the future if a similar situation comes up.
I thought about what it is like to be a special needs parent. How life is just a little different when it comes to parenting special needs kids. How things don't always go the way you want or the way you think they might go.
I thought I would talk about some of the things I have learned over the years about raising special needs children...
- Learn to pick your battles. This is a biggie. Although you want to be firm with your kids, sometimes you do have to pick your battles. If your kid is in a certain mood, everything is going to cause a problem so pick what is important and don't worry about the rest. This was part of the issue on Friday. I should have just stuck to the major issue we were dealing with instead of expecting him to do more than that. If your kid only wants to wear his jacket like Batman does and getting on the bus is a big issue anyways, let it go. It really isn't that big of a deal. Focus on the getting on the bus part. Don't worry about the jacket.
- Take time for yourself. You need it. When you feel like it is getting to where YOU need a timeout, take one. If you are the only adult in the house it might be a little harder to do this. You might need to just say, "You know, ME taking a timeout is more important than THIS battle." If there is another adult in the house, have them take over for a while. Go take a bath, read a book or meet a friend for coffee.
- Look at the big picture. Instead of thinking about the bad days, look back over the last few weeks or months and see how far your child has come. If it helps, ask a friend to remind you of this. They don't see your kids everyday and can notice more of a difference. I know with my oldest I felt he would never really learn to talk. But then I would take to a friend who only saw him every few months and she would tell me how much better he was doing. It was hard for me to see since I was always with him. It helped to hear that others saw the progress even if I didn't.
- Find a good support group. This is so important. Find people who support you and your children. Find other families that might be going through similar issues. Knowing you are not alone and having support goes a very long way. People who make life harder for you and your special needs children just aren't worth it.
- Don't worry about what others might do. When it comes to special needs, you might have a lot of choices. Go with your gut here. What works for one kid with autism might not work for another. Talk to your doctors, therapists, school and your spouse to figure out what is best for YOUR child. If you feel your kid has a certain issue and people tell you not to worry but you can't let it go, get it checked out anyway. I really think Moms know if something is going on with their children. Don't doubt yourself.