Pay It Forward

Patience is necessary, and one cannot reap immediately where one has sown.~ Soren Kierkegaard

I was recently part of a discussion about parenting children with special needs. One person basically came right out and said there was no way I could understand a child with Autism because I’m “just” a mother. Another commented that because my children aren’t “severely” disabled, I can’t understand what other parents are going through. I’ve already written about how I feel when people start playing the disability olympics. I struggle so much with wanting to tell people that every day is a new day and then being shot down as overly optimistic.

I am optimistic when it comes to children. They represent new opportunities for everyone. Just as each adult brings a new thread to the tapestry of life, so do our children. If you think about it, we were all children once. We learned, struggled and overcame obstacles. We became reflections of our upbringings.

It is those upbringings that parents are responsible for. It’s tough being a parent. Despite all the parenting advice out there, each kid is unique and doesn’t fit “perfectly.” I’ve had friends whose babies started sleeping through the night within weeks of birth. Other parents have had to cope with colic for over a year. Consequently, we’ve all learned to adapt to our children’s needs in order to keep our lives running more or less smoothly.

My knowledge of children with disabilities comes from both raising Autistic children, working with children who have significant disabilities in the school setting and providing advocacy assistance for families whose children have a variety of disabilities. I do not profess to have all the answers. But, I can offer advice from a variety of perspectives. The first piece of advice I always offer is that tomorrow is another day.

I have been following another blogger as her toddler with Autism grows. When I first started reading that blog, I smiled a knowing smile to myself. The frustration and love for her child were evident in her writing. Yet, I knew she had many days of discovery in her future. Life would change, sometimes for the good and sometimes for worse. She is now blogging about how cool it is to watch her child start to do tasks that her friend’s kids did a year ago. I wanted to say “I told you it would be okay” so many times, yet did not feel it was my place.

My advice to all adults out there, parents or otherwise, is to be patient. Be patient with yourselves. Be patient with your children. Be patient with the kids you have in your life. Know that parents are trying to figure out how to be parents. Don’t judge, even if your kids share a disability diagnosis. Be kind. Remember that you’re a role model for those around you. You don’t have to be perfect, just patient.

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