The What-If Questions: A Letter To Special Needs Moms

 

The What-If Questions LetterDear Special Needs Mom,

I wonder how you are doing? I often find myself thinking of you, when life for my kids with autism is thrown all up-in-the-air again, like it is now.

I remember how the what-if questions rocketed through my mind when we first found out about my son’s autism. And tonight, again, the questions shout deep from my mind and loud in my ears.  As I lay down, these questions alert the exhausted part of me which needs the rest deep sleep provides, to rise up and attend to their answers.

Only now, the what-if questions are about my son going to a new school. His new school is not only new to him, it is new to the area where we live. It is a school made specifically for children with autism who are unable to be successful in their current school district placement.

This school has so much to offer, including one-way mirrors (a parents dream!) so we can observe without interfering, medical and behavioral interventions, a highly desirable sensory OT room, full time therapists, full school days year round with only 2 one-week breaks!  And they can address some of the medical questions we have been unable to get answers to: Does he have seizures? Does he have full-blown Tourettes in addition to autism? Does he still have the same food allergies? Is there something else medically going on that is causing him to have such a hard time?

We have been on a difficult journey getting to this point.  I never would have thought it possible but now that we are here, one week away from the official transition there is that part of me that emerges when my head hits the inviting pillow and wonders:

What if he doesn’t like it even more than where he is now?

What if he feels tricked or cheated out of a summer break?

What if he misses Mrs. T —the summer school teacher that loves him?

What if the bus issues don't resolve but rather intensify?

What if, despite everything, he just plain hates it?

Sometimes we simply need to stick together, encouraging each other, you know? This parenting children with autism thing is somewhat new territory.  We are like the forerunners in the rising wave of children on the spectrum coming through the educational system, paving the way for those to come behind us. There are so many unknowns, which leads to so many what-if's.

But what I do know is true (Philippians 4:8), is that having Stevie in this new school is beyond what we ever thought we'd be able to have for him (Ephesians 3:20).  When the school presented the idea of sending him there, we kind of felt like laughing like Sarah did when God told her she was going to have a baby at her age! (Genesis 18:10-12). Her hearts desire was promised even though it seemed impossible. Nothing can stop the will of God. (Isaiah 14:27)

And nothing will stop His will now, either.

And you know all those interrupting what-if questions?

Statistics say the chances very high that we worried for nothing. Even better, God says he has our kids best interest at heart (Romans 8:28) and He has the ability to carryout his plans! (Philippians 1:6)

It will all work out for the good like He promised. It just sometimes a little scary in the in-between times, while we wait.

Right now I wish we could share stories, about the times we have worried so much about how things will turn out, but then God shined through with direction and solutions? Those stories give rise to faith and encouragement to the heart. (Hebrews 10:25)

Until next time,

Merri

Letter To New Autism Mom # 8: We Need Eachother

Letter 8

Dear New Autism Mom,

The other day I was messaging with a friend about the struggles we have raising our "spectrummy" kids. Her son is younger than mine so dealing with obtaining a correct diagnosis and a reasonable IEP are big issues for her.

I love sharing with her the things we learned when we were in that stage. It makes what we endured worth it because it is helping her and her family now.

Dealing with unusual and hard-to-believable behavior from our children is a problem we both are dealing with most of the time. And you know what? It helps to know that there is someone out there who understands even a little bit of what we're going through.  

It is a tremendous help to know you will be believed when you tell your story of what is going on at your home. 

It is a huge help to know that the person listening to you isn't going to judge you or your actions in dealing with your child.

It isn't true for everyone you meet--that they will "get" you and not judge your parenting decisions. But when you do find those people--do not let go of them!  They are gifts from God.

Seek those people out,  search for them. You need them and they need you

We weren't meant to do this alone. And alone is exactly how it feels if we (especially special-needs parents) aren't intentional about reaching out and making connections. Isolation is easy, and sometimes (oftentimes) forced upon us-- like it or not. 

If you are isolated and stuck in loneliness--unable to find your voice to connect with others, if you are trapped in the pain of a newly diagnosed child, then you need a friend like this most of all. 

Sometimes friends offer advice that is not good for us or our children. When they do (even though out of the goodness of their heart and desire to help in some way) we can feel even further apart from them than we did before. Oceans suddenly appear between us and it's easy to feel like no one gets it.

It's easy to think we are all alone in this struggle with our kids but that is not true. You just need to keep searching for "those" friends. You will find them. They are out there waiting to find you too!

When I was in Kindergarten, I remember feeling like I didn't have any friends in my class. You know what helped?  This simple advice:  Ask someone you would like to play with, "Will you be my friend?" 

Sometimes, the advice we need is so simple it slips by unnoticed.  So if you are looking for a friend who will join you in this parenting thing, here is my simple advice for you:  Be that friend to someone else. Then ask them, "Will you be my friend?"