As moms, we are asked, or better yet, we are expected to do everything when we are raising our children, but especially when we are raising children with autism and special needs.
I am grateful that my son, Brandon has been able to live independently for the past thirteen years, despite all of his limitations. With that said, several days a week, I am asked to step up to the plate and help my son from a distance with his daily problems. These constant problems can be difficult to deal with. However, since my attitude adjustment, I see it as a creative way to expand my thinking and to help my son learn. We both seem to gain a lot from these encounters when finding new solutions together. So when I call him I have to admit I often wonder what I will be stepping into. What has helped me tremendously is I have changed worry into wonder.
Just this morning, Brandon called and told me he was standing in line at the Verizon Wireless store. He said he was waiting to speak to someone about his phone because the battery wasn’t charging. He had been there for over an hour and although Brandon speaks well, he often has a very hard time conveying what he is thinking and then putting it into words.
Brandon said, “I am frustrated, they don’t understand what I am saying, I need help.” I called the store while Brandon was standing there and I was lucky to get a real person to answer the phone. He was happy to help and when I told him my son was in the store he said, “Oh, that must be your son, the tall guy with the baseball cap.” I replied, “That’s him!” He walked over to Brandon and with Brandon’s help and my limited coaching we were able to solve the problem. It is extremely important that Brandon is involved in the process. I wasn’t on the phone to bail out my son, rather I was there to assist him so he can learn. The salesperson told us that Brandon will receive a new battery in the mail, and he left the store feeling satisfied with the results. These encounters help to build Brandon’s self-esteem.
Over the thirty-seven years, while raising Brandon, I have learned in order to help my son that I have to come from a kind place. I must be able to put aside any negative feelings, attitude, or fears while I deal with Brandon, especially when trying to resolve any of his issues. Because Brandon doesn’t live with me, it allows me to refuel much more easily.
Parenting from a distance has become a skill, an art that I now enjoy. When we are on the phone, Brandon has the ability to focus more easily on what I am saying. There are no distractions. It works well as long as I stay kind, respectful, and courageous.
As parents, we must be careful and to not allow our own fears to stop our children from advancing. Being courageous is a necessity and it is the secret ingredient to help your children with special needs reach maximum independence.