Parenting is tough, I think we can all agree on that. But parenting a child with special needs? It brings a whole slew of new challenges and emotions. Bennett is beautifully happy little boy, who almost always aims to please. As far as having a child on the Autism Spectrum, he is really high functioning and making small bits of progress every day, and I'm so proud of him! But also, this diagnosis is new, and we're still adjusting.
Here's the thing, though. Beyond just loving & adoring him, I'm having a hard time parenting him. You know, stuff like discipline and following through on consequences. I know that he views the world differently than an average child, and I know that the way he perceives and processes information is complicated. So with that in mind, it makes it really hard for me to know how to deal with outbursts, tantrums & mischief. Because really, he isn't mischievous on purpose! He gets into things and breaks things, out of curiosity, and because he's genuinely interested in something. He's a hands-on kind of learner. We both know that his intentions are pure, but also he can't just run amuck and do whatever he pleases. There has to be boundaries. Right?
And the tantrums?? They aren't because he's stubborn or spoiled. They come from a place of misunderstanding. He has random outbursts, and it usually occurs when he can't find the words to express himself, or when he's having a hard time understanding what is being explained to him. And unfortunately, it causes a lot of headaches for me, and a lot of heartache for him. I mean sometimes when he's having a rough time & freaking out, I feel nothing but compassion for him, because I know how hard it is for him to express himself and to read other people's emotions. And I just want to scoop him up and hug him and let him know it's OK. But then other times, I just feel frustrated, flustered, and irritated. I try to give him grace, and myself grace, but it's not always easy.
I'm just kind of lost right now. I don't know how to treat him when we are in emotional situations. Sometimes I feel like I need to be solid with my methods of discipline, just like I am with his brother. But it's hard when I know that there is a huge barrier there and he doesn't even understand what's happening. I guess there's a side of me that knows that it's just not realistic to have the same expectations of him, as I do his brother. But I don't WANT to treat him differently. I want him to be on the same level as Easton, and know that he's just as amazing. I don't want him to ever feel different, or limited. I just don't know.
This territory is new, and it's complex, and we're in it for the long hall. Autism doesn't go away, and I'm going to have to figure out how to navigate it. I just love my boy so much, and I want to do what's best for him to help him learn & grow. It's just damn hard.