Having a children is quite possibly the most life altering thing that has ever happened to me. I never realized how much hard work goes into parenting until I had my children. It is also not something you can necessarily explain to someone until they experience it for themselves.
The responsibility of raising another human being into a loving, good, grateful, confident, educated, responsible, giving person is enormous. This also magnifies when you have a child with special needs. It leaves you with questions of the future that you may not have with a typical child. The fact is no one knows exactly what the future will bring. Special needs or not…life happens. However, I know in my experience I almost have this “secure” feeling that my daughter who is “typical” will go onto to achieving what she sets her mind to. She will have to work towards her goals and they will be accomplished. There are days that I feel that for my son who has PDD-NOS as well. However, I have my days where fear creeps in and I question if that is true. The reality for him right now is that he is doing fairly well. He just has to work harder at keeping his behaviors regulated.
That is not so easy for a four year old to do. I often wish I could get into his body for a day to feel and see what he experiences. I often find myself observing him and I see there are certain things that just overwhelm and frustrate him more than the average person. He can be quite possibly the sweetest boy at times and yet he can be very oppositional. We have days that just seem to run so smoothly and on those days I feel secure that everything will be fine. He will figure out his path and the worry seems to subside. He has other days that the slightest things that seemed so effortless, are now overwhelming. For example, we were using a visual schedule to help him complete his morning routine (brush teeth, take PJ’s off, put clothes on) independently. This took him months to “master” and he would often just stand there screaming. God has sent me massive amounts of patience and endurance and we got through it. We are now at the point that he doesn’t require the schedule on a daily basis. He knows the routine and on most days completes the task. We do however have days for reasons I wish I knew he just gets “stuck”. I know and can see that part of him wants to do it but something in his brain is preventing him. He just starts screaming “no I am not doing it”. I just have learned to ignore his inappropriate behaviors and stay as calm as I possibly can. Believe me when I tell you IT IS NOT EASY!! I just want to scream “Just Do It” and believe me there have been days when I have. I know what some of you are thinking…really he is four what are you expecting. Yes, I often think that too. I think is this typical behavior or not. The answer I came up with is that some of it definitely is. However, the fact that you can see him struggling with it… there is this part of him that wants to do it. In this case “it” would be complete his morning routine. In most cases with a “typical” child not doing something is because they have something else that they would prefer to do. For example, watch TV, play a video game, etc… My son just gets “stuck” he will go to start and then just stand there staring off or just start screaming. There are also times where he will start the routine and then get thrown off by something like he can’t get his hand through his sleeve. Instead of asking for help he will scream completed strip down and run around in complete frustration. On these days I just feel the worry consume me. On these days I just want to scoop him up and do it for him but I don’t. I can’t, if I want him to be successful in the future. He has to learn how to appropriately work through it. When he has his “good” days he feels so proud of himself. He tells me how happy he is with himself. It is in those moment I know all of the work we are doing will benefit him now and in his future.
The other thing that occurs is that there is almost a double standard for my daughter. I often battle with this in my head. I mean if she is screaming her head off, I just give her the look and ask her to go sit quietly and think. My son will also become aggressive with me at times. The course of action I take with him is to ignore his behavior unless he is putting himself or someone else in harms way. This has worked to greatly decrease but not completed stop a lot of his behaviors. I don’t do that with my daughter for some reason. I expect her to get it and give her more consequences to her actions. Is that a double standard I suppose it is. Each child is unique and different rules apply. …but I am learning that any behavior you feed into will grow. Therefore, actively ignoring the negative will reduce it and greatly reinforcing the positive will increase it. It is a work in progress for my husband and I.
We are just two human beings praying that we are doing the “right” things for our children. Praying that all the work they are doing now will only benefit them in the future. As for the double standard with my daughter. I am getting over feeling that way. I started to realize as well that there are many things she gets to do and have that he does not. These are the joys of navigating through parenthood. Each day is a gift no matter what package it may come in. It is our responsibility to learn from it and pass the lesson on to our children.