14 December 2015

A Raw Post About Parenting A Child With Special Needs

It's very rare these days that I open my heart here on my blog. Like, really open my heart. As I mentioned a few weeks back, things have changed. I'm trying to be a little more careful and private about what I put out there for the world to know & see. Plus, I have sort of fallen into that trap of wanting everything to appear fine, and perfect. But since I'm in an honest mood, honestly, things are mostly really good. Truly, they are.


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.


jen said...

i hope that by posting this, you are able to connect with parents in the same situation as you and that you find support and encouragement.

Amber Brunner said...

My heart goes out to you! Parenting is a tough job!

Andie Zimmerman said...

Liam has ASD, too! It is difficult, no doubt. I've known for over a year and I am still learning to cope, as is my husband and my older son. Liam is also high functioning, which makes it hard on me because I know he can do more or better. Our school has been wonderful when it comes to teaching him as well as guiding me through it all. If you ever have any questions, or just want to chat, I'm here. Having support, or just knowing you're not alone, will do wonders. It has helped me tremendously!

Jason and Kelly said...

Get the book "raising your spirited child" it's fantastic. I also like "the spark" but it's written more like a novel and is a mom's journey of working with her autistic son.

Anonymous said...

I have visited your blog for a while now and love the
updates you post about your son. I have a 4 year old son who
is being diagnosed with high functioning autism and
I have struggled so much over the years with feelings
of not being the best mom and worrying about him in school.
It is so tough to not fully understand my son's behavior.
I can most certainly empathize with you and your struggles.
Thank you for candidly sharing your life it helps others!

ADSchill said...

Love to you sister. And to my Bennett.

Molly said...

I've learned the most by talking to my autistic friends about this stuff. What's he like sensory-wise? I've found sensory stuff to be super helpful too. If you wanna chat about this, lemme know!

Sweet As Boys said...

I have always said my Rawley has been just like your Bennett. He is about to start Kindergarten next year and it freaks me out. They are throwing the term out of developmental delay, but yet succeeding in preschool and speech therapy. Who knows what the future holds, but right now it's extremely hard to parent him. But I do know he is just the sweetest boy ever and will do anything to have him succeed. I love reading about your posts with Bennett. They are both encouraging and informative and it's so great to see all the progress he has made over the years. Love to see you back here, mamma :)