The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
I have been thinking hard about how important a parent is in the life of a special needs child…
It’s been a while since I wrote anything about autism. It’s been a crazy season – being home, working from home, and helping the kids with their schoolwork, etc. There is something I have learnt during this season, though. Parents are very important. Parents matter. Parents are special people.
Parents, let me encourage you today.
You know your child better than anyone else
Picture this. You take your child for a therapy session, and they are crying all through. The therapist tells you that things will get better with time, but at the next session, things are the same. You try a few more sessions, and nothing changes. Then you start to notice that your child cries every time you are leaving for the therapist’s clinic, or every time the therapist is just about to get to your house for a session. At this point, you, as the parent, make an executive decision and stop the sessions. Why? Because you know your child best.
I have been there. I have had to make this decision several times. Initially, I felt that I should have tried just one more time, then I realized that it was up to me to make sure that my child was happy and at peace. Nobody else could have done it for me.
You communicate best with your child
Maybe your child is not yet speaking. Maybe you are longing to hear that first word. Can you tell, however, when your child is sad? Can you tell when he or she wants to have a meal or go to the bathroom? Most likely you can, especially when nobody else can tell what your child is trying to communicate.
How does this help? Imagine you go for a therapy session, and the therapist asks your child to do something. Your little one does not respond, and the therapist is stuck. You then offer to try and talk to your child, explaining the instructions. He or she quickly responds by doing what the therapist has asked. Do you see what I mean? Parents always know how to communicate with their kids.
Parents, don’t beat yourself up just because your child is not speaking. There are other ways that kids can communicate like sign language, using technology, writing, using pictures, etc. Find the best way to communicate with your child.
You want to help your child out of love
Nobody wants your child to acquire skills as much as you do. Nobody understands how important it is for your child to be independent like you do. Your love for your child is what drives you to hire therapists, follow the home program, buy equipment, etc.
You may, however, find that the people you hire to help your child are doing it for the money. Others may be doing their job just because it is a job, not because they love working with your child. The bottom line is, your love for your child is what will drive you to keep going, to keep learning, to keep training, and to keep waiting patiently for a skill to be mastered.
I just want to encourage a parent here. The world will not always accept our children for who they are. It is up to us to show them how to love children who are abled differently, and to show them that being different is not a bad thing. Also, surround yourself with like-minded people, people who will support you on your parenting journey, people who will love and accept your child just as they are, and people who may even offer to watch your child while you catch a breather!
You are your child’s greatest resource
Parents, you are your child’s greatest resource. You provide them with love and care. You make sure their environment is conducive to learning. You purchase all that they need for therapy, school, etc. You feed them and clothe them. You teach them the things that only a parent can. You pay for therapy sessions and school. Parents, you rock!
In this season when accessing services is hard, I believe that parents can still do something with their children. What have seen your therapist do that you can do at home? Find out what activities your child can do to improve in areas in which he or she has challenges. For example, if your therapist has mentioned fine motor skills in the past, look for videos with fine motor activities you can do at home. Also, for those who are doing teletherapy, it’s important to remember that a good session works best when you are there to help with setup, resources, etc. You can also opt to get a therapist to come up with a good home program for your child which you will implement.
See how important you are, dear parents?
One last thing, though. You need to recharge from time to time otherwise you will burn out. Find a way to catch a break whenever possible. You need it.