Raising special needs children should have its own parenting lesson book. As a parent, you will have moments when you feel overwhelmed, unprepared, and frustrated with your special needs child. I know I have. All special needs parents have felt that way. It’s normal.
But these feelings shouldn’t become your “normal.”
Here are 5 lessons I learned about raising special needs children:
- Pick your battles. This is a biggie. Although you want to be firm with your kids, sometimes you need 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. If your son only wants to wear his Batman jacket and getting on the bus is a big issue anyway, let it go. It really isn’t a big deal. Focus on the task of getting on the bus. 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 time-out, take one. If you are the only adult in the house it might be hard to do this. You might need to say to yourself, “You know, taking a time-out 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, reflect on the last few weeks or months and see how far your child has come. If it helps, ask a friend to remind you. They don’t see your children daily and can notice a difference. I know with my oldest I believed he would never learn to speak. Then a friend who only saw him every few months told me how much better he was doing. It was hard for me to see this change since I was always with him. It helped to hear that others saw the progress even if I didn’t see it myself.
- Lean on a support group. This is so important. Find people who support you and your children. Find other families that are experiencing similar issues. Knowing you are not alone and have support goes a long way.
- Don’t compare. When it comes to special needs parenting, you have a lot of choices. Go with your gut. What works for one child with autism might not work for another. Talk to your doctors, therapists, teachers, 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.
Are you raising a special needs child? What lessons would you add to this list?