I’ve had a lot of sleep-deprived nights lately, as I am sure many of you are in the same boat. This new world we are living in is a scary place. As parents, we can’t help but think about our children and their futures. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about the future and of course a very important word called HOPE. Hope is a word that special needs parents really thrive on and how we get through the day. Let me outline why having hope with special needs children is so important.
An Uncertain Future
I came across a video a few weeks ago, of a non-verbal autistic child and his mom. The mother was explaining how she had to accept his progress as a sign of hope and that is really all she could do. It was such an honest video and I felt her pain and their struggles. This video brought me to tears because it was something that really hit home for me.
My son is three years old and was diagnosed with Autism and Speech Apraxia amongst motor planning and sensory processing disorder. He is trying so hard to speak but is still learning sounds. I cry a ton about his lack of speech and I don’t know if he will ever talk. This provides an uncertain future for him and it is very difficult to digest. When you have a special needs child, you really need to also have hope. I hope that they can catch up, hope that they can be independent, and hope they can live a normal life.
I think about the definition of grieving and what it means. In a way, I feel like I have lost something that isn’t tangible. I wasn’t able to thrive off the joys of meeting milestones, hearing my son say “I love you Mama”, or seeing my son eat certain foods like ice cream or popsicles and enjoy them.
Being my one and only child, I feel that I lost some of the motherhood normalcy and replaced it with a new normal. This new normal was filled with other joys and of course hope. The joy was getting my son to eat something other than purees without vomiting or being able to do something that was very difficult for him to do, like walking up and down the stairs. In realizing that I was allowed to grieve over the process of realizing the new normal, I understand the importance of hope. I have never looked at hope in a light that was so clear and bright.
You Have Permission
I want to let those of you that are struggling right now know, that you have permission to be upset. We all love our children, but we are human. We are allowed to feel and cry and be upset that we have to see our special needs children struggle. It is okay to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, because it really is. One thing I want you to never forget is the importance of hope. Without hope, we simply lose the ability to look forward to the future. Our children need us to pave the way for them to be successful with their special needs.
The Importance of Acceptance
I can’t stress enough, the importance of acceptance when you have a special needs child. I know it can be hard for us as parents, to accept that our child may be struggling, that they may have something wrong with them. In order to open the doors to resources and a successful future, it is important to accept the news. You will cry, you will scream, you will even be so overwhelmed you won’t know what to do. I promise you, that you will get through it. You will keep things moving and you will have triumphs and setbacks and ups and downs. All of this is perfectly OK! Just don’t forget the importance of hope. Hope is what is going to get you up in the morning, hope is what will make you fight and advocate. Hope is what special needs parents fill our engines with. The love we have for our children can move mountains. Remember that the next time you doubt yourself. Our children are miracles and they will keep surprising us each and every day.
It is also important to talk about acceptance to other family members and friends. And for special needs parents to be encouraged.