I realized I have mentioned how important it is for parents who are raising kids with special needs to hang around those in similar situations for support and friendship. However, many times that could end up disastrous. Especially if seeing eye to eye doesn’t happen. Let’s face it. Raising children with autism or any special need is a difficult task. It can create a lot of bitterness and as a result can make parents very opinionated to the point they are downright judgmental. I won’t be hypocritical here and say I am not in that boat. I know I can be very opinionated and I am about to express 3 reasons why I actually do avoid hanging around many parents who are raising kids with special needs.
1. Parenting and Curing the Disabilities in Their Children Consumes Their Lives. I am all for giving my son good therapies and reducing the sugar in his diet to help him function in life. The ABA, occupational and speech therapies he has had since he was 3 has helped him in many ways but it won’t ever “cure” him. I know that sugar makes his ADHD a lot worse and he is less functional if he is sugared up. I limit his sugar intake. And yes, I did try giving him gluten free foods and that did not make a difference. I gave it up and never looked back. I personally don’t think it does anyway. Once again I am all for giving my son the help that he needs to evolve. However, I am not going to stay up all night studying the next experimental treatment that has no proof of working. I am not going to spend all of my time studying what foods might be bad or not. If you are concerned then get a referral from your child’s pediatrician for him or her to get tested by an allergist. I don’t want my only conversations with other moms to be about what so called new treatment there is out there to banish autism or severe ADHD. Because I am also realistic enough to know that autism cannot be banished, just worked around the best way it can. I also have other things in my life to focus on like my daughter, my dog, and my work and my leisure activities. I am not a “super mom” and I don’t want to be a “super mom”. That is not what I want my identity to be.
2. Vaccine Blaming. Because I know vaccines had nothing to do with my son’s autism (genetics and his traumatic birth I think were contributors), I just cannot stand listening to others blame autism only on vaccines. And when the discussion heats up, it becomes vile. I want no part of any of it. My daughter had the same vaccines as my son and she does not have autism. She has mild ADHD and is typically developing otherwise, and again I am sure genetics played a role in that. In my opinion, vaccines have nothing to do with it and don’t stand there and tell me that they do unless there is some kind of significant proof which there hasn’t been at all. Chances are it will never happen.
3. Being the Martyr. This one really gets to me more than the others mentioned already. Yes, I know that when you have a child with special needs, you have to sacrifice more time and effort to see what you can do to help your child evolve the best way possible. But once again, don’t let it consume you entirely AND don’t expect to be around to take care of your disabled child for the rest of your life either. In fact I had recently written a blog post about why I get so angry when I not only hear other parents raising children with special needs willing to give up their entire lives to care for them- but I get even more angry with them for calling those who plan to send theirs off to group homes “selfish”. In my opinion that plan is anything but selfish. Firstly, that is what is going to be best for the child! Group homes encourage them to be as independent as they can be. It will be best for your other kids, it will be best for you! If you play the martyr and plan to care for your disabled child for life, your child will never learn any kind of independence! You will grow resentful, your other kids will grow resentful (they will wonder when they will have to take on the burden when you no longer can) and disaster will be inevitable. Even if the resentment doesn’t happen, what will happen when you die? Your disabled adult child will not know what to do if you drop dead at home. The only way your death would be known is if the neighbours call the police due to a foul odor coming from your home due to your corpse decaying because your adult child wouldn’t know how to call a funeral home to remove your body. Would you want to subject him or her to that??? That’s martyrdom and in my opinion, it’s disgusting- every aspect of it. Who are you trying to impress by being a martyr? What are you trying to prove?
If you have a child with special needs, yes it is hard work, you will have to do more than other moms who have children that are typically developing. However, in the end- you are still you, you have your own life, your children, disabled or typically developing should not consume every part of you.