I noticed her, as she sat there reading The Sensory-Sensitive Child. Titles like that always jump out at me because I’ve read a lot of those books, and of course I have my favorites too. I asked her if she had read The Out of Sync Child yet, which sparked a conversation.
“People tell me my son talks too much and is annoying. I am just surrounded by people who keep telling me I need to spank him more, or that I need more structure, more discipline, to do this or that better with him. They just DON’T UNDERSTAND MY SON.”
This was from a mom whose 7 year old son was just diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. We met in the waiting room of the therapy office where my boys get speech, OT and PT. What an overwhelming thing to have to jump into with both feet! This mom is trying to do her best. She is gathering her information and seeking to find out everything she can about what makes her son tick, so that they can be successful. She pulled him out of public school, because he wasn’t doing as well there as he needed to be. Now she is homeschooling, and others around her are so free with their opinions.
It is so easy to look in from the outside and give an opinion, but until you spend 24 hours in that home, with that child, you have no idea.
We have been at this for 10 years. Our 10 year old came to us as a newborn with special needs. We’ve been doing the OT/Speech routine for almost as many years as he has been alive. Our 8 year old too, has been in OT/PT for a couple of years. For us, it’s normal. It’s not YOUR normal, but it’s OUR normal. But this mom? She’s brand new to all of it, and her son is too. All she knows is that now she is starting to get information. Now she is starting to feel that there is at least some light ahead. Now she knows she’s not crazy. Or a bad mom.
Having a child with special needs is a new experience. It’s hard fluctuating between the relief of knowing what is wrong, and the negatives of “best case scenarios”, “expected prognosis”, and of course the opinions of every other person who has ever seen your kid throw a tantrum in public. And they, naturally, think you should just discipline him more. But what does your heart say?
It’s time for a new definition of normal. Normal is what ever routine you can establish that will help your child succeed and your household to function, hopefully all at once. Normal is what ever it takes to bring out the best in your child, without pulling out the last of your hair or despairing because she still can’t ______. (Fill in missing developmental step.)
Never forget that God made your child, and knows her. He knit her together within you (or her biological mother) and brought her into your family for you to raise and care for. He is not worried about her. He knows what you can do and He knows what you cannot do without Him.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
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