Our special needs baby turns 3 in April. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. While parenting in general is a life-altering and painfully sanctifying task, parenting a special little one is even more so.
And I’m not making my situation out to be any harder than it is–we have been very blessed. I believe that my daughter is much easier than many other types of special needs, and that we have things much easier than a lot of other special-needs families that I’ve seen.
But even her mild disabilities have a tendency to bring out the worst in me: when I’m in a hurry to do anything, she slows me down. This frequently leads to resentment, anger, and frustration. I’ve had to stop myself, lately, and notice the attitude that is both contributing to the situation, and resulting from it. I assume that my life needs to move faster than she can go, and that’s when I get into trouble. When I slow my life down to her pace, we’re all a lot happier. When I get up in the morning and set aside 10 minutes to get her dressed (because she can’t dress herself) and comb her hair and help her put her glasses on, she and I are much happier for it. When I start getting people ready to go out the door 10 minutes before I need to so that I can make an extra trip to the car, holding her hand and helping her, our trip goes better. I don’t feel rushed and harried, and she doesn’t feel like I’m always angry with her. These lessons have been a spiritual battleground for me as I try to (sinfully) keep control over the many factors in my life, and my type-A personality and ability to remember the millions of little things that all need doing. She makes me stop. Slow down. Do the thing that matters. Care for her with love, not just efficiency.
In our three years of caring for her, my husband and I have learned that we have opinions and use techniques that are not standard. We have learned that we have very little support for the way we have chosen to raise her. The internet doesn’t have answers to a lot of our questions. So next week I’m going to share how we’ve done things a little differently with her, in the hopes that I might encourage somebody else out there looking for solutions beyond the institutionalized approach to special needs care. In the mean time, if you have specific questions, please feel free to comment or email me, and I’ll include them in next week’s post.