for when your child doesn’t fit in

While we all have those parenting moments when we notice something a little quirky about our kids – not all of us have the privilege of anxiously wondering how much that quirk will hold them back socially. And then the day comes when it does.  And that cute little quirk becomes a massive elephant in the room of your child’s social life.  Others notice the quirk(s) and begin to act as if… As if your child couldn’t possibly be liked by very many people because she/he is different. As if they are already on the path to Outcast. As if they are not worth the effort.

And it cuts. Deep.
Then, another worry sets in. You’re just waiting for the day to come when other children, maybe even the ones that now call themselves “friend”, will start to tell your child how he or she is different.  And, sure enough, that horrid day arrives.  You overhear another child utter words to describe your child that flitted across your heart, but only in shadowed whispers.
And that heart of yours… it shatters.  Into a million pieces. One for each thought that comes at you about the social road ahead.  And that road is paved with the shards of your heart.
It’s hard work. Raising kids.  It’s hard work, with an emotional cherry on top, raising a child with special needs. Whether those needs are social, physical, emotionally, or some combination, it doesn’t matter.  It’s just hard work. But, like all things that require extra effort, the rewards can be huge.
The rewards can be outrageously great on some days, and barely identifiable on others. Staring deeply into the eyes of the one you call “child” and seeing love reflected back there is an incredible reward. Hearing words of love from this same child? There simply is no greater reward, this side of heaven, for the tantrums and all-nighters you’ve put up with or put in.
But, for those barely identifiable days when you’re sure that your heart has not one single shard left to spare, and in those moments when you rail against the “gift” of being the parent of this child, remember this:
Not_Alone_Creationswap_Richard_Sherrill_Missindeedy
You just look to your right and you’ll see me.  I may need you to put your arm around me and forget about your tattered heart for a moment while you scramble to help me pick up a few shards of my own.  And on the days that I’m feeling strong and seeing the joy in this journey, look to your left.  Let’s promise to link arms and head over there and help that friend up as she struggles under the suffocating weight of learning that her child might never “fit in”, for the very first time.
One thing is certain – we do have to walk this road. It was chosen for us for reasons we may never be able to understand, this side of glory.  But we must always be willing to link arms and remember that we don’t walk it alone.
No.
Never alone.
Sincerely Indeed,
Missy
Today’s post is from dear, sweet Missy.  You can find Missy writing anonymously about the mishaps of daily life with an Engineer, a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and a preschooler who’s convinced she’s 14.  She is a Southern transplant living the dream in the New England area.  The mishaps are a’plenty.
 

a little help from your friends

[forgive the wacky formatting, Friends… I’m working on it, but the internets are against me today]
The Sweetboy that God gave to us, is delightfully quirky.
Sometimes, though, The Quirk doesn’t manifest itself in socially healthy ways.
Like, when the adjustable waistband in your shorts has unraveled and said shorts are now pooling around your knees.  And you aren’t affected.  But, all of your friends on the bus most certainly are.
Lord, why? He deals with so much, already!
“Why, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce a Social Story about your clothes fitting correctly!”, I thought.
You’ve heard of these magical things – social stories. They are often used with children who experience difficulty expressing language and/or understanding receptive language.  These short and simple stories – with simple pictures- allow children to see how a doctor’s visit might go or how a relative’s visit might work or how you must wear underwear under your clothing.  (Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the family for whom an encounter has just left them shouting, “WE NEED A SOCIAL STORY FOR THAT!”)
And so, here was our Social Story about Shorts:
Shorts are a kind of clothing you can wear.
  shorts_l
Zip and snap your shorts when they are around your belly button.
zip_shorts_missindeedy
Shorts should not fall down.
stomach_shorts_missindeedy
The End.
Not. Even. Kidding.
These kinds of stories have gotten us through our first dentist visit, bringing home a baby sister, and the death of our beloved dog.
Sometimes, that wonderful “not caring what other people think” quality of Sweetboy’s?  It get’s him into hot water socially.
Like, when your shorts are falling down around your knees when you get off the school bus. Only, instead of complete embarrassment over this incident in-the-moment, Sweetboy simply told me, in a very matter-of-fact, ASD way, “My shorts fell down all day today.”
Because this blessed child?  He doesn’t think of it as socially unacceptable that his pants were falling down All The Day Long.
No. This blessed child just thinks it was a nuisance, and so he asks me to fix his shorts so that it won’t happen again, please and thank you.
So, to review, the shorts must stay up around your middle.
Or bad things can happen. Things like, your shorts falling down in front of your friends.
Or your mother.
Either way, it’s not good.
Or socially acceptable.
And someone cries.
Usually, me.
Lord God, shield my child’s heart from the cruel misunderstandings that follow him in his Autistic tendencies.  Shield my own heart, and the hearts of the many mamas and papas who are doing their level best to raise these children You’ve blessed us with.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Also, every picture you’d ever need, and then some, is available for free at www.do2learn.com  It has been an invaluable resource for us.  Maybe it will help you too?
Today’s post is from dear, sweet Missy.  You can find Missy writing anonymously about the mishaps of daily life with an Engineer, a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and a preschooler who’s convinced she’s 14.  She is a Southern transplant living the dream in the New England area.  The mishaps are a’plenty.

The Way We Roll

Today’s post is from dear, sweet Missy.  You can find Missy writing anonymously about the mishaps of daily life with an Engineer, a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and a preschooler who’s convinced she’s 14.  She is a Southern transplant living the dream in the New England area.  The mishaps are a’plenty.

We felt like we were rolling along pretty well; my husband and I.  I had just delivered our first child, a boy, and we were euphoric.  That first year and a half rolled along beautifully.  And then, things changed.  We hit some bumps in the road and began to pursue a medical diagnosis for our son’s delays and behaviors.
“Your son has a form of Autism called Pervasive Developmental Disorder – NOS, with a Global Developmental Delay.”  They were, by turns, words we were expecting and words we were taken by surprise to hear.  Parenting is a journey.  With the pronouncement of these words, we now saw, at the very least, that our journey would include some mountainous terrain.
Since the time of our firstborn’s diagnosis at age two, we’ve been struggling to make it work as the parents of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  As with all things in the life of a Christ Follower, we were and are totally dependent upon our God to see us over every bump, hill and mountain. And He does not disappoint.  Looking back over the last 7 years, since that initial diagnosis, we can see where God has gently nudged us this way, and that; times when He allowed our momentum to flat out fail so that we would be dependent upon Him to get us going again; and people that He has provided sweet friendships with, to soothe the feelings of isolation.
We were recently acknowledging how very grateful we are to be this child’s parents.  God has enabled us to provide for his (and now his little sister’s) needs, emotional and otherwise. I’m able to forgo my teaching career to stay at home right now.  We are able to provide stability for this child that craves routine and structure.  God provided both a “feeler” and a “thinker” in this parenting team. Our daily prayer is that He doesn’t let us get rolling too far down either one of these paths; and that between the two of us, we’re providing a pretty good team regarding our parenting of this special child that God has given to us.
Does that mean that we get it right all of the time? Definitely not!  In fact, our parenting journey has been downright comical, as we are two very messed-up individuals (see earlier admission about having one thinker and one feeler!) trying desperately to get it half-right as often as possible.  Our reliance, though, is not upon ourselves. It is upon The One from whom all wisdom and grace flow. That’s Who keeps us rolling along. When we think we can’t possibly go one more round of the “how in the world do we get through this stage?” parenting game, He’s right there.  We can sometimes literally feel Him pushing us forward, prompting us to simply love this kid; and to keep moving forward one moment at a time.  In faith? Yes. But also, in the assurance that He’s got our back.  And that He’s gone before us.  He’s got this.  He’s got us.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  
Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
And when we get stuck in a rut during a particularly difficult parenting moment, we have to remind ourselves to rely on God to get us through. It may not be the smoothest ride, but as long as we’re relying on His strength, we’ll keep on moving forward.  And that’s the way we roll.