Having two kids with special needs is a whole new world for me…for my entire family. It can be super challenging, but it’s so fulfilling and a beautiful life we have made. But something I have noticed is “special needs” doesn’t look the same as what a lot of people see it as. And I am totally guilty of it!
A few months ago, I was at Ruthie and Simons therapy appointments. When Simon was done I was speaking to his therapist about how he did. I will also add I had Lorelei with me and was constantly asking me something or requesting something….non stop. The next thing I heard was Simon crying and another boy crying. I ran over and heard that Simon had pulled the hair of a boy with Down syndrome and that boy was now so upset. I instantly started apologizing to the mother and his therapist (who were completely understanding) and took the two to the car to wait for Ruthie. When I look back at that scenario now, I wonder… would I have been as upset if the child didn’t have Down syndrome?
My daughters behavioral aide was over and she shared this story with me that I have to share. She was working with one of her kiddos who has Down syndrome and they were at a park. This particular child use to have this quirk that she had to tap every blonde child on the head….yes, only blondes. She hasn’t done this in years but the therapist saw it getting ready to happen. This little girl was waiting to go down the slide and a little blonde boy was in front and before she could tap him on the head, the therapist caught her hand but still managed to touch the boys head (not harming him). The mother saw it happen and scoffed even though the little girl literally repeatedly said “sorry”. Her attitude didn’t change until the little girls face was visible to that mother. She saw she had Down syndrome and her persona changed. She was mad until she saw she had Down syndrome.
Not all “special needs”is physically obvious. If my daughter or son had hit that little boy on the head, I don’t think that mother would’ve been as sympathetic. I don’t want to have to tell every person that my child is autistic. It’s not their business. I am just left with people thinking I let my child run the house, that I don’t discipline or that I just don’t care. It’s everything but that!
I think what I am getting at is this. As parents we need to support one another regardless. We are all trying our best wether we have a child with special needs or not. I was hurt when I got a dirty look from a dad at the park because my daughter was yelling loudly “No sing, No ABC’s”. He was only trying to sooth his baby but his singing was bothering her. Trust me sir, I hear her and I was talking to her and explaining to her that is not how we react or behave. I told her that it’s not nice to scream and when I look over to apologize to you I get a dirty look. I’m sorry but I am not going to explain to you that she has had issues with anyone who sings, dances, hums or even whistles. I don’t know why it bothers her so badly but it’s something we work on daily. I will not cover her mouth for you or scream at her. I will correct her and apologize to the affected party and move on. It’s all I can do….for now.
I am not sure why, but very often my kids get confused for twins + one. So many people think Simon is younger than the girls. My son is three and sounds like an infant. He has no words and only babbles. He will not look at you and probably could care less about you. He is not rude…he is autistic. He sees and hears things differently than you. He learns differently than you. I wish every day I will some day hear that sweet boy say “mommy” or better yet “I love you”. So when you hear that he is the same age as his sisters….please have a better reaction. It hurts my feelings when I see your “oh wow, he acts so much younger than three” look. He is so smart and loving I absolutely wouldn’t change one thing about him!
Look at this face!
Special needs has many faces. We shouldn’t react immediately with a disgusted look when we see a child acting out or behaving irratically. If the parent is acknowledging their child and trying to console them..lets have some sympathy. I have had instances where a child may have pushed my child or taken a toy from them and the parent is right there correcting them and apologizes to me and my response is “it’s okay, if it wasn’t your child it was going to be mine. We are working on it”. What I can’t stand is a parent who isn’t paying one bit of attention and doesn’t correct their child. I honestly don’t care if your child pushed mine, but if you aren’t there to explain the reasons why that’s wrong then they will more than likely keep doing it.
We all have been there special needs or not. It’s not a fun experience. My heart breaks when I can’t console my child, when they act horribly or shove another childand selfishly I get embarrassed because I feel the looks and stares. All I can do or what any parent can do is correct them and apologize.
My child is not a bad child…she is autistic. My son doesn’t understand the dangers of running off…he is autistic. My daughter can’t handle huge crowds and starts to scream and roll on the floor….she isn’t acting badly, she is autistic. My son gets so excited he may bite or pull hair…he is far from being mean…he is autistic.
Just something to think about when you are in these situations. And parents with autistic children….you are super heroes! It is the hardest job…but it is the most rewarding. What one parent sees as nothing may be a parents huge excitement! Like when your child eats with a spoon at three years old….you have a small dance party inside 😊
Thanks for reading and please share.