Whether you are happily married, divorced, have a sick partner, or are separated because of hectic work schedules, parenting a child is the greatest challenge anyone faces, our greatest contribution to the world, and our heaviest responsibility in life. Emotions cover an entire spectrum- from sorrow and joy to defeat and triumph with everything in between. Is it any wonder, parenting a child with autism or any other learning disability can seem to add insurmountable issues to our lives?
If this is you, rest assured you are uniquely qualified to help your child. A parent’s bond gives special insights others do not possess- this is a fact, so don’t argue. You love this child more than any other person on the planet and want only the best possible life for him. So, do your best and do not sabotage your efforts with thoughts of inadequacy; become his/her most devoted advocate and keep searching for the help you need to provide the right tools for success.
I am pretty sure my son will never be a rocket scientist or brain surgeon, but I am sure my child can achieve some basic level of independence one day. That is why I always push him to try new things and not settle for a game controller in the basement for the rest of his life.
Sometimes, there are things these kids can do that no one else can do. Many can hyper focus on certain subjects, and therefore outshine any “normal” person. One such area for my son is birds. Yes, I said “birds”. He studied birds; their names, nesting habits, male/female, adult/juvenile coloring, etc. He could draw them, map them, and talk about them with anyone who would listen.
Now, imagine turning this unusual hobby into a job, and you can see what I am getting at. Present your child with different activities and see how they respond. Work on their weakest areas, which in my son’s case was becoming more self-aware of how his actions/words affect others. Another area was learning how to sustain a job, ANY job for a long period of time. This takes a lot of paying attention, asking questions, and careful explanations over and over…and over. As the years go by, I try to get my son to see where he started and how far he has come, especially when he is disheartened. He has accomplished more than the average Joe. I try to validate these accomplishments, and encourage him to reach a little further.
Do not compare your special child to any other children, that is an exercise in futility. He is a unique person, with a unique fingerprint, and a unique purpose in life. Help him find it. You will be surprised at how far they can go. I know I have been. We are not where I would LIKE to be with our own son, so we continue the parenting process. I can see great strides over the past five years, and I can see we are getting closer to our goal of independent living. In the end, I have developed some much needed patience and foresight. He continues to learn new things about , time management, social interaction, life skills for holding a job, or volunteering.
You can do this! It is worth the extra effort, time and tears!
Arleen is a mother of three, wife of a retired military man who is currently pastor of a local church.
She enjoys Gardening, reading, raising chickens, and mentoring women in her new role as a pastor’s wife.