Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do Us a favor, please don't feel sorry for us..

Dear Everyday Person,

I know what you are thinking when you see my children out in public.I see your stares and hear your whispered voices when you see my children get excited and stim or when they are over stimulated and just can't control themselves. And I know that in your heart you are not trying to be mean. That its just different and its not what you are used to seeing when you look at children. And those whispered voices, I would like to think that it is just you trying to process what you are seeing. We see the pity in your eyes and the concern in your voice. Please Stop.

Please stop feeling sorry for us. We don't want pity. We don't want to hear " I don't know how you manage"or "I don't know how you do it". We do it, because we must. There is no other option for us. Its called being a parent. And a good percentage of parents out there would do anything for their kids. Does it seem a bit trying at times? Yes. But again that is parenthood. Even the best of kids, have their days where they seem a bit out of sorts. Autistic Children are no different. Yes it does seem that the noise, bright lights and the hustle and bustle of everyday seem to ignite our children, but its not out of fear or discontent. Its how they feel, hear and see this world. So that concern that you have that we might not be good parents to our children because we let them just be them is for not. The best thing you can do for us is just accept our children.

When you see us out and about, do us a favor. Accept us as a part of society. Don't shun us or be sad for us. Pity is not what we want. Acceptance. Love our children the way we would yours. Accept our children as we would yours. Just because our children look at the world from a different angle, doesn't make them any less a child.

Take the time to notice how beautiful our children are. Look past the stimming. Look past what makes them different in your eyes. See that they are just as every inch awesome as the next child. Our children deserve to know they are loved and accepted just as yours are. Be that person who lets a Special Needs Parent that their child has lovely eyes or beautiful smile. That is what makes our day. Knowing that someone accepts our child for what they are, a child.

Yours Very Respectfully,

A Special Needs Parent.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Drawn to the Majestic Waters...

By now its not a big secret that the vast majority of  Autistic children are drawn to water. From the smallest of puddles to those vast open bodies of water. There is something that water has that is so appealing. The way it moves or the way it reflects the world or maybe its the calmness of it, that settles even the most active brain. But to those who are drawn to it, it can also be this very majestic prison. 

We lost another young life this week to that wet grave. Each time we loose a child to water, it heightens our need to always protect and guard our own. Before anyone says that a parent who has lost a child to drowning is a bad parent, needs to see what we all go through when it comes to making sure our children are safe. The thing is people often forget that an Autistic child is smart. They forget that just because a person is non verbal or appears to be within themselves that they don't understand how things like doors or locks work. Most of the time we hear that the parent states they have their house locked up tighter than Fort Knox, but yet the child still manages to get out.

For me, I have three children, who all love water. Especially my two that are on the spectrum. We go to the pool almost every day. As soon as I open the gate to the kid's pool, my four year old is already in the pool. Like a fish, water is his world. As I watch him float, as that is his favorite thing to do, I am still on my guard. Watching him be at peace for a moment in this little boy's life. It is the only time he is not a spinning top. But as I stand over him, I wonder if this is some sort of nirvana for him. If the water for him is when he can rest his racing movements and thoughts. I am left wondering if this is why so many autistics are drawn to the majestic waters. For some piece of mind.

Its too bad that places like the YMCA or local swimming pools don't offer swim lessons specially for children with autism. Teach them how to float properly or how to stay afloat. Now I get that teaching someone with autism has it's challenges, but we have already proven that they are smart and that they retain information. Is it going to take some extra care and time? Sure. But if you are a person like most of the teachers in these children's lives, it is worth it. If you are a swim instructor who wants to try and make the world a better place, than this might be for you. I know that there are programs out there, but you have to do a serious searching to find them. I know organizations like Autism Speaks and the National Autism Association have their own campaigns to raise awareness about children with autism and water. But what if they could sponsor some swim lessons at pool or maybe help train people who could teach autistic children to swim.

In the span of a couple of weeks, I have managed to teach my little fish how to float on his back like a star fish. It took time and patience, but we did it. It doesn't take much. I just didn't want my child to become yet another statistic.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Fighter within us .

If you had asked me couple of years ago if I was a fighter for anything in my life, I would have laughed. I am a person who avoids conflict like the plaque. So the idea of fighting for anything was a foreign concept.  But over the years things have changed. Things in my own life that have forced me to want to fight as well as things going on in the world. For me though, I don't consider myself a fighter, but more of an Advocate.

I bet that you didn't know that as parents, the minute we become parents, is when we start being an advocate. We are the voice for our children. In every aspect of their lives. When you walk into a doctors offices, when you are sitting in your child's classroom for a parent/teacher conference. Whenever there is a time that you have to be the voice for your child, you are advocating for them. It doesn't take much.

I know there is this stigma that surrounds Special Needs Parenting. We are portrayed as these angry, loud and obnoxious people who are constantly fighting all the time. Whenever I am faced with someone who has that misconception, I always ask, regardless, if your child was special needs, would you do everything in your power to make sure they grow and prosper? And the answer is always yes. Most don't realize that they advocate for their neuro typical child every single day, just like the special needs parents do. The cause is just different.

Parenting is just one thing that most of us can identify with. Why? Well we all have children. But each of us have things going in our lives that we think are right and wrong. Often times we are fighting just to have our voices heard.

There is a reason why I fight hard for certain things. I want my children to grow up in a world thinking they can achieve anything through good, honest hard work. I want them to grow up knowing that it doesn't matter what you have or how you got to your destination, that people are going to accept you as a human being. As that is what they are. I fight for the rights of people who don't have a voice. For me there are so many things in this life that has been given to me, that are worth while.My children, my lifestyle, family and friends.. the list goes on.

So when I look back at the person I was 10 or 15 years ago, who was the meek, mousy person. I laugh. That person would have never thought in a million years that they would be fighting for the rights of others, let alone advocating for those who need a voice. Think about it.  We all fight for something in our lives. Our Children, religious freedoms, civil rights, oppression, racism. What ever it is in your life, you will tap into that fighter within you, even when you don't think it is in you to begin with.