The past decade of my life has been devoted to helping my children recover from their developmental delays. Not only fighting with schools, moving to get into a better school and making sure their IEPs are implemented, but also focusing on what can be done at home to help them recover.
We have spent tens of thousands of dollars on at-home therapies, from vision therapy, primary reflex integration, and Balometrics, to biomedical healing, listening therapies, and neurofeedback. We have done a whole gamut of things to help them improve, and they have improved, DRAMATICALLY!
When my older son was 6, a neuropsychologist told us he would never be a productive member of society. He would always need care and he would never be self-sufficient. Those were devastating words, and remembering them would always recharge me when I was exhausted from our recovery efforts.
But now my boys are doing amazingly well. My older son is 15 and recovered to the point that we know he will have a typical life. He will go to college, get married, maybe even have kids. He wants to be a biomedical engineer or toy designer. He has dreams that are big, and I know he can achieve them.
But then there are days like last Friday. He went to a party that he didn’t want to go to, but I pushed because I thought he needs more social interactions. Many kids at the party have learning issues, and I knew he would be welcome and accepted. Only he didn’t get along so great with one kid, he got mad, and he ended up leaving the party without telling the hostess. She panicked when she realized he was missing. Thankfully he just walked home, and I was home, so I quickly realized what had happened.
But he’s 15, and he was acting like he was 9 — socially immature, impulsive, lacking empathy for the hostess. Then I went into a panic. Was I doing enough to help him with social skills? Did I push too much? What can we learn from this? What other help can I get him? Should I start a social skills group for him? Was this just ordinary teenage behavior?
My mind started racing, and now my stress levels went up.
When do we get to relax?
I know all moms worry about their kids, but us special needs moms seem to have more than our fair share. On a daily basis we have to remind ourselves that no matter what happens, we don’t really have a lot of control of the outcome. We need to have faith that somehow everything will be okay. Thinking it won’t be okay could drive us bonkers.
At 15 my older son has come so far since that dire prediction when he was 6. He’s a typical 9th grader who is independent in school, general education classes, and an honor student. He excels in science, graphic design and math. He still struggles with writing, but he did write that hostess a very intense note before he left, showing the vast improvement he’s made with putting his thoughts on paper.
Even with all the improvement, there are deficits in the arena of social skills. Experts tell me he will catch up now that his brain is processing correctly (after doing biomedical healing). Some say this angry storming out is normal teenager behavior. Other says he is socially awkward and maybe we’ve missed an autism diagnosis (see Social Awkwardness Does Not Always Indicate Autism for my thoughts on that).
And so I wonder, with all I have done to help my son recover, will it ever be enough?
Will he reach the point that others do not notice he is anxious in social situations?
Will he be able to find a girlfriend, wife and grow up to have a family?
Will he be able to hold a job that requires regular social interactions?
And so I ask you, fellow Special Needs Mom, do you ever relax about this?
Do you ever have a moment when you believe that everything will be okay?
I have a philosophy of life where I try to adjust my expectations. I trust that God has a plan, and that plan will unfold exactly as it’s meant to. I can do this in most areas of my life. I have been an entrepreneur for over 15 years, and when income is scarce, I always trust that it will turn around. But I struggle to maintain this level of acceptance when it comes to my kids.
So every day I work on gratitude. Brene Brown, a sociology researcher, says when you are in a worried state, turn to gratitude. If you see good happening, and you find yourself worrying that the other shoe will drop, move into gratitude. Find what you are grateful for, and it will move you out of that anxiety and into a space of acceptance, love and joy.
And so I move into gratitude.
I am so, so grateful to have been the mom to these special boys. I have learned so much from them, not the least of which is accepting life as it comes. I am so grateful I now have the opportunity to help other moms by sharing the knowledge I have learned in helping my children. I am so grateful for this opportunity to move into service, and carve a path where others might have an easier journey.