Tag Archives: mood disorder

is love enough? (adoption/foster)

Is love enough?
Pam Parish, a woman who writes insightful words over at www.pamparish.com,  asked for input on the “love is not enough” idea in a Facebook adoption group. I had quite a lot to say about the subject since I’d heard Nancy Thomas speak on “Love is Not Enough.” I had disagreed with Nancy to a point, and I constantly hear other parents use those words, “Love is not enough.”

Here’s what I shared with Pam (with a few additions), which she posted on her blog: I think it all depends on what a persons definition of LOVE is. Is love putting a roof over a child’s head, providing clothing, toys, entertainment, taking them on vacation, being there for them when they need it?

Or, is it much more than that?

Is it providing consequences to teach them how to live life? Is it holding them when all they’ve done is push you away? Is it living through the ugly and dirty moments when we feel such hate being slung our way? Is it moving on with each day even though we don’t have strength to even look at the dirty dishes in the sink?

I feel it’s all of the above and more.

This is HARD because our children came from HARD. I believe the knowledge of this begins with the original training foster and adoptive parents receive before a child is placed with them. Although we never truly understand what it takes to raise a hurting child until we are living with them day to day, I feel I had a better starting place than many. Because of our training, I was able to empathize with my children and I knew it was going to be HARD.

My love has been enough, but then my definition is probably different than most.

I see where some adoptive parents are coming from, we hear others say, “I would love to adopt, children just need love,” and maybe they don’t realize the amount of “love” a hurting child needs. One mom on the Facebook page said, “Those who look at our family think, ‘Look, all they needed was a family to love them.’ ” But, that family knows how much “love” it has taken to heal their child.

original photo by joeymc86 via freeimages.com

Is love enough? Some might say, no. But does your love include educating yourself and learning about trauma? Love should be all inclusive. As I was working on this post, I received an email from my dad. He had listened to my radio interview, and said, “I know you have developed a relationship with Payton and the two of you are very close. One thing to remember is it is a continual learning process.” I think that process entails love, a love that is willing to try to do the best, and be the best for a child. It includes loving through the process and in the process.

Love is a big word. Our children need a big love and we can do it.

I am rewarded daily for the immense amount of love I’ve poured into both my children. When Payton runs to me after school, yelling, “Mommy!!!” and gives me a big hug, my heart is filled. It used to be that I showed up at her school and she wanted me to leave and didn’t want me to help her with her craft. Now, she WANTS me to sit with her on her classroom floor and read with her. Now she gets slightly jealous if I help other kids in her class, whereas before, she couldn’t care less where I was or what I was doing.

Love is a big word. When children come from trauma, they need a big love to carry them through.

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why consequences & rewards don’t work for hurting children (adoption/foster)

consequences You can listen to a recording of this post, just scroll down to the bottom of this page and don some earbuds. 🙂

“My child doesn’t respond to consequences, I can take away anything and he doesn’t care.” “Rewards mean nothing to my daughter, I can offer an ice cream at McDonald’s or a new Wii game, it doesn’t matter to her.” I hear these stories ALL. THE. TIME. It’s as though all of us who have children who’ve been neglected, abused, and traumatized live in the same house! Yes, every child is unique, but there are many similarities in hurting kids.

One of the similarities that’s common in hurting children is their response to consequences, discipline, and rewards. At some point in your journey, you may have been encouraged by other parents to read Love and Logic or attend one of their seminars, other parenting advice may be thrown at you, saying, “I promise, this works.” The problem is, there’s a missing link, their child probably didn’t experience trauma, neglect, or abuse, or at least it didn’t have the same affect on their child.

Love and Logic, Have a New Kid by Friday, as well as other parenting books and classes have some great information, but they aren’t the cure-all for a hurting child.

When we were struggling with our daughter’s behaviors a friend of mine (she had adopted domestically) suggested I read Have a New Kid by Friday. She said, “It works. Find something she cares about and remove it if she makes a wrong choice.” I said, “I’ve tried that.” She replied, adamantly, nodding her head, “There’s something.” I read the book anyway, there were some good ideas, very helpful ones for children who aren’t hurting. But, why don’t consequences and reward systems work for kids who’ve been neglected, abused, and traumatized?

Because many adopted and foster children don’t care about the material world around them.

Often they don’t have a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or blanket when they’re young, they aren’t connected to anything, so removing it doesn’t make any difference to them. Neither are rewards important enough for them to turn off their strong emotions and behaviors for them.

The logic part of Love and Logic doesn’t work because hurting kids don’t think logically, their brain isn’t calm enough or reasonable enough to do so.

Their brain looks different than a child’s who has been loved and cared for since their birth. This DOES NOT mean they aren’t intelligent, oh no, most children who’ve been through trauma are very smart (all about that in another post), but logical they are not. Not until they’ve made significant attachments.

These kiddos are constantly in fight or flight mode. There are three responses that children have to trauma – fight, flight, and dissociation. When looking at the trauma response in adults, Putnam says, “Among the constellation of symptoms associated with the trauma response in adults is dissociation. Dissociation is simply disengaging from stimuli in the external world and attending to an ‘internal’ world. Daydreaming, fantasy, depersonalization, and derealization are all examples of dissociation.” Putnam goes on to explain what happens to a soldier during battle and how dissociation can take affect, and he concludes, “It is this very ability to dissociate which can keep soldiers alive.”

It is much the same for our children. They have connected to the world around them; what’s going on, where they are, and who is present, not a person or item. They were in life preserving mode before they came to us, and it’s going to take a lengthy amount of time to learn that their new parents and caretakers can be trusted.

It will take more than a few months to learn they don’t have to fight, flee, or dissociate from their life any longer. I’m not encouraging you to throw out all consequences or rewards, we need to use them to lay a foundation for their future. Your child still needs to know they can’t get away with hitting, tearing apart the house, or yelling.

Some ways to begin to curb your child’s behaviors are through time-ins.

Time-ins are time with you, if your child is small enough, that means sitting on your lap, preferably while rocking (make sure you are safe and not harming your child). If your child is bigger, you can have your child sit in a chair near you. You can also have your child do something with you, preferably not something fun if this is being utilized as a consequence.

Using natural consequences lays that foundation I mentioned earlier. An example of this is if your daughter draws on the couch with a marker, she can’t use markers or crayons for a set period of time. (I don’t recommend using natural consequences with food related instances.) Remember that you may not see a difference in your child’s behavior, they have to make attachments, then their brain will calm down and heal so they can think logically and care about those around them.

When you have a child who’s come from a neglectful or abusive situation, your parenting techniques need to be tweaked.

Dozens of times I’ve seen parents of older biological children say, “My other kids turned out great, what’s the problem? It can’t be me, because I did it right four times.” What they don’t see is that parenting a hurting child and one who’s been loved consistently is vastly different. Parents think they can implement the same techniques they used with their biological children with their hurting children and it will all turn out the same. Sadly, they’re wrong.

Hurting kids come with a whole different set of rules, and many of those rules are difficult for us to understand. One big one is that it takes time. Lots of time. Are you willing to be patient with your children? Are you willing to show them love, read on this website about how to parent your child, and be consistent?

  • A child who’s been neglected, abused, and traumatized will react differently than a child who has been loved consistently to consequences, discipline, and rewards.
  • Hurting children aren’t connected to the material items around them, so removing them won’t make a big difference immediately. You can use these discipline techniques, but understand you are laying a foundation for later.
  • A hurting child’s brain looks different than a child’s who has been loved and cared for consistently.
  • A hurting child doesn’t think logically because their brain isn’t calm. This doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent!
  • Often dissociating is what kept our children alive in their neglectful, abusive environment, and this will carry over to their new environment – your home. It will take time for them to heal.
  • Use time-ins when behavior is unacceptable. CHOOSE your battles. Use consequences and rewards to lay a foundation.
  • Parenting techniques for hurting children need to be modified.

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Be sure to check out my CONTENTS page for more posts on how to help your foster and adopted children and your family.
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putting the HOPE in HOPEless (adoption/foster)

You may wonder why I write this blog, why you should listen to yet another person who thinks they have an answer to helping hurting, traumatized kids. Why am I here? Because of what my daughter has come through, the great progress she has made.

I try not to flag my faith here. My faith in Jesus plays a pivotal role in my life, and sometimes it’s difficult to avoid talking about it. I don’t wave it in front of my readers because I want to welcome EVERY adopter, every foster parent, every parent of an Autistic child. I don’t want someone to read that I am a Christ follower and feel they will be judged or that what I say doesn’t apply to them, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I welcome everyone here.

Why did I just go on a rabbit trail about my faith? Because I cannot attribute my daughters healing to anything other than God giving us wisdom in how to help her. I can’t credit the progress my son has made to anyone but God. Did He send down divine miracles that culminated in instant healing? Well, we’ve witnessed several miracles in our journey from fostering to adopting and beyond, but no, when it came to their psychological and physical selves, it was a process. A process that took our hard work and dedication. Sometimes God sent the answers quickly, and other times we were banging our heads, falling on our knees, asking Him to show us what to do. And He did! That’s the awesome part, the journey to healing.

I’ve mentioned my daughters diagnoses before, but for the purpose of helping you see where we’ve been, here they are: Reactive Attachment Disorder (please see my opinion of that HERE), PTSD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Failure to Thrive (emotionally), and mood disorder.

We’ve had monumental success with our daughter, Payton, despite this LONG list of diagnoses. We have a really amazing daughter! We always have, but many times it was difficult to see her positive qualities amongst the screaming, raging, defiant, controlling behaviors. We had glimpses of how wonderful, sweet, thoughtful, and smart she was, but in the beginning they were viewed through a window thick with grime, and as we moved forward the grime fell off (well, we actually scrubbed it off with massive amounts of elbow grease). We now have several weeks at a time when we experience life with a sweet, cheerful girl.

Payton is thoughtful of others, she goes out of her way to share food (which is a big deal for a child who’s had food issues) and toys with others. She’s a mini therapist with her younger brother, Jeremiah, who has Autism. She pushes him on the swing, she gives him what he needs, she notices the little things he says and does that are new and exciting (a word or a movement). She does all of this of her own volition. She has empathy for others when they are sick or hurt, or just feeling down. She’s very intelligent and enjoys learning new concepts, in fact her favorite free-time activity is teaching and reading to her animals. She’s a really special girl, and I love spending time with her.

There was a stretch when I looked forward to the times when she went to her Grandma’s daycare for an afternoon, but now those times are extremely rare, I want her around. She plays well on her own, we have interesting conversations, and I like doing things with her. We have truly seen a turn around in her behavior, attitude, and her psychological makeup.

I’m not sharing this to brag, I’m telling you so you can have HOPE. Your child CAN overcome. You won’t be battling this forever. Does this mean it’s easy to get where we are? No, it takes hard work and dedication. However I’m here writing this blog to help you do exactly what we did. My hope is to help you help your child.

Recently, one of my readers was discouraged by my post on detecting attachment issues, she thought her son was getting better and attaching, but when she read the list, she wasn’t so sure.

My response to her was that our kids can heal from much of what they suffer from, but there are some behaviors, attitudes, and emotions they may carry with them the rest of their lives. Although their brain can heal, they will have certain personality traits that stick around because their early life was so formative.

For example, my daughter will probably always be hypervigilant. Her early life taught her to watch out for herself and take care of herself because no one else would. She will always be aware of her surroundings and others, but now the worry is gone from her demeanor. Payton has leadership qualities (notice I say, “leadership,” not “controlling behavior”). She has a need to be in control of other kids. This works well with her brother who has Autism, because she mothers him and is helpful, but it can create problems with friends. I think as she gets older, this will become less of a problem as she learns how society functions, and we’ve already seen some great improvement in this area. We need to focus on funneling her desire to be in charge in positive directions. These are a couple of the traits that may stay with our kids. If they’re truly healing, you will see most of the others fade drastically, or completely disappear.

Besides those formative months and years, we also have to consider their biological beginning. That beginning can influence them inutero or through their biological parents genetic makeup.

There is great HOPE for our children. If we put effort in, there is a gorgeous rainbow at the end of our long road. It’s not a fix that will happen over night, but it can happen. God did not make us so we can’t change. God didn’t bring our children out of hardship so they could be miserable for the rest of their lives. He gives us HOPE. We have fallen, and if we are worth being picked up, then so are our children.

what invisible illnesses taught me about humanity

invisibleillnesses

My home is filled with invisible disorders and health issues. Autism, depression, mood disorder, PTSD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Attachment Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder. I guess some could argue that many of these aren’t invisible, yet most don’t realize what happens inside our home, which might be a good thing. I call them “invisible” because no one can SEE anything different from the outside. The only distinction they do see is negative behaviors, stimming (and if they don’t know what that is, they just think it’s odd), and that our family doesn’t work like everyone else’s, and they could chalk it up to bad parenting.

All of the issues my family deals with has made me see the human race differently. First I was forced to look at life with an altered perspective, and now I must look at others in an unconventional way. Maybe you who are reading this have already come to this place in your life, or maybe you’ve always been vigilant to not judge others. Even though I thought myself one of you, I was not, and I believe I still have a long way to go.

As I live day to day with these “invisible” disorders and sicknesses, I move through the universe in contrast to how the rest of society does. Because my life has been drastically changed, and I don’t feel that anyone notices what’s going on, or that I am being judged when our family doesn’t function “normally,”  I tend to look at other people with new eyes. When I see a child screaming (I don’t mean crying, but screaming mad, defiant) in the grocery store, I no longer immediately think that a parent won’t take care of their out of control child. I wonder if said child has Autism, and can’t handle shopping. When I see a child in public and she is talking back to her mom, not listening, being inconsiderate, I wonder if she has attachment issues.

My point is that you never know what’s happening with someone else. We never know if that mother or father suffers from depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or some other ailment. We never know if a child has experienced trauma or has Autism. Sure, there are parents who let their children get away with hell, but the fact is that we never know what their life situation is. Do they have enough money to buy what they’re shopping for? Do this mom and her husband agree on how to raise their children, or are they divided on every front? Children know this and will act out because of it.

Yes, I was prudish before my life took a drastic turn. My new life has taught me many things. It has given me a new perspective that I am so thankful for. I wish others could consider this viewpoint before making assumptions. People have stared at us, people have commented, people have avoided, people have failed to help, but then we are human and that’s what we do unless we decide to change our interpretation of life.

Do you feel you are judged? Do you feel others see the “invisibles” in your life? Do you feel like you are fighting a battle alone? Is there a way to change other’s perspectives of your family, yourself?

when your adopted child doesn’t fit seamlessly into your life, what will you do? (adoption/foster)

To this day Dimitri’s bones ache when the winter cold settles in. As that chill cloaks him, memories of a frozen Uzbekistan scene play through his mind like a horror film. His father laying on the concrete floor of an abandoned building, drunk, and nearly dead. He’d wrapped a thread bare blanket around his sister, but her little feet protruded from underneath. His other sister sat watching those who must brave the harsh winds pass on the street, fur Ushanka hats, coats, and boots layered their bodies, warding off the sting of ice. Then it had come time for him to scrounge up something for dinner, but the chances were slim, they hadn’t eaten in two days.

Stories like this one are plentiful in the adoption community, whether a child came from Russia, Africa, or America, they all have their stories. They may not be exactly the same, but they all contain great heartache.

What is a child to do with that pain? Do they know how to be a well-behaved daughter or a perfect sibling? Will they fit seamlessly into their adoptive family within one year of meeting them? What about a child who hasn’t attached within two years? I don’t believe children are given enough opportunity to get past the anguish they have been through, and brought with them.

As I have said many times, our hurting children have developed a new way of living because of their previous environment. You may see different stages of behavior and say, “He wasn’t like this before.” When our children come to us, they may be quiet and reserved, as time passes they may try to be controlling because they have a need to dominate situations or they feel everything will fall apart if they don’t. (Their previous life did, so why wouldn’t this one?) Then you may see outbursts of anger and a complete breakdown of behavior – this can be a sign that they’re beginning to get comfortable and they are SCARED. Our hurting children want to replicate the chaos in their brain because it makes them comfortable if their outside environment duplicates what’s inside. So we can see that our hurting children exhibit behaviors for a reason.

In the past week I’ve mentioned the Reuters investigation The Child Exchange a few times. Why? Because it’s shocking. But shocking as it is, I feel the thoughts the adoptive parents have expressed there are more common than we want to think.

I believe part of the problem stems from our society. We are living in a “me” world. (Don’t worry, I live in the same “me” centered universe too.) Soon after we adopted our daughter, my mom said to me, “When you and your brother were little, I didn’t have date nights or weekend getaways.” True, they didn’t. But truer still is the fact that mothers can do a better job raising their kids if they can have some time away (especially if you have hurting adopted children – but always be careful how much you leave your kids and /who/ you leave them with).

This mindset, the one that says we need date nights or a break, can be taken too far. I say, everything in moderation. We can begin feeling that life is about us, and if you have a child who’s difficult, it can turn into ideas such as, “This is not what I signed up for,” or, “This child is taking too much of my time.”  Parents can even place the needs of their biological children above their adopted ones.

In The Child Exchange, Gary Barnes said he gave his adopted daughter, Anna, to another family because he lacked the finances to provide therapy, and that therapy would have been inconvenient. First, I wonder why therapeutic parenting couldn’t have been done in the home. (That’s why I do what I do – I want to help parents care for their children in the home. Yes, sometimes outside therapy is needed, but a majority of an adoptive parents success is accomplished in-home.)

My second problem with his statement was the inconvenient part. Really?? (By the way, this couple did not have other children.) It was too inconvenient for them to provide therapy for their hurting daughter? I am simply flabbergasted.

Third, they didn’t have the finances? I wonder if they’d had a biological child who went missing, what they would have done to get that child back safe in their arms. What assets, time, and effort would they have put into finding that child? It should be the same for an adopted child, because they are essentially lost without our help. They need us to move heaven and earth for them, they must be treated as our children because that’s what they are. If we don’t treat them as such, I can guarantee they know it, and their actions will speak volumes against us. This is a LIFE, and I can’t stress how important it is to put our child’s needs first.

Other adoptive families give reasons why they can no longer care for their child; he puts spaghetti in his pockets (well, he has food issues, and was probably starving before he came to you), she hides in the closet and won’t come out (really, is that the worst she throws at you?), she sneaks out her window (kids who are just being kids do that too). What I’m saying is, look at your child’s behaviors and decide that you can handle them, because that’s how you’ll make it through. If we begin to believe that we can’t handle our child’s behavior, that they’re too wild, too whatever, we slide down the slope of self-preservation too quickly. You can make it through this. There are hundreds of thousands of teens who are doing well and have bonded with their adoptive families. It takes a parent who is dedicated to doing everything they can to help their child, and a commitment that communicates, “I am never going anywhere and neither are you.”

When my husband was in ministry many moons ago, we went to a counselor, Louis McBurney (he has since passed), and his greatest question for us was, “And then what?” If you think something is so horrible, ask yourself that question. If your child hordes food in his room (there are solutions for this behavior that help), and you are angry and at your end, ask yourself, “And then what?” This means, what will be the outcome if your son stashes food in his room? The answer: The room will begin to smell. And then what? Answer: We might get mice! And then what? Answer: Well, I guess I could have him clean it. Yep. And that behavior of his will continue until you get to the bottom of his fear regarding food. (And the answer is NOT locking the fridge and cupboards.)

The point here is that often it’s not as bad as we perceive it to be. We are tired, we are worn down and worn out. But when we think clearly (and follow advice from this blog – insert smiley face), we can see that our problems can be overcome.

Believe me, I am not immune to problems. Besides having a child with multiple diagnoses stemming from her early neglect, I have a son with Autism. Autism can be extremely difficult, and one aspect that makes it such is my son is constantly changing. There is always an obstacle to overcome.

We are constantly having to problem solve; how do we potty train a child who doesn’t talk or use sign language, or understand the words, “Come and tell me when you have to go potty.” What do we do when he’s suddenly frightened by his room, but we can’t communicate through words that it’s safe, how do we take care of his sensory needs when we can’t go outside and swing?

If you have a hurting child, problem solving is part of your daily life, and the issues our children present can be solved. I know this post isn’t encouraging, but I desperately want to see families staying together because I care immensely about adopted children. They have been through hell and deserve to have a wonderful life. I also care about you, the parent, and I know that if you don’t follow through with your commitment to your child, you will ridicule yourself and the guilt will pester you. You won’t feel better if you don’t do all you can. And you CAN do it!

just my opinion on “labels”

Diagnoses have a negative reputation, and they’re often referred to as “labels.” Maybe there is critical thinking when it comes to diagnoses because of how people have used them, abused them, and criticized the diagnosed person. It may also be because some use a diagnosis as a means to get a child medication (in some cases those medications are needed, and in others, they aren’t). The disapproval of diagnoses is probably a combination of all the reasons listed above, and more.

While looking at my website, Facebook, and Twitter, you will see diagnoses such as Autism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), and Mood Disorder. Wow, that’s a lot of diagnoses, or as some people would refer to as “labels.”

I don’t see a child through their disABILITY or disorder, nor does their disABILITY or disorder define who they are in my mind.

In my case, I am very thankful I had some diagnoses for my kids because it helped me understand what they were dealing with (in all cases they were hurting either internally and/or externally) and how to help them.

When we first had a Speech Pathologist and a Developmental Therapist working with our son they were extremely reticent to mention the word Autism or move forward to get a psychological diagnosis. I understood the diagnosis part, they wanted to be absolutely sure. But what bothered me was when they said they work with all children in the same way, and no child is treated different because of a diagnosis.

But wait. There are specific therapies used for Autism that work to help them function better. It’s the same with Sensory Processing Disorder. If you don’t know how to treat it (I don’t mean with medication), then you’ll have a terribly uncomfortable, agitated, and angry child with a lot of behaviors you can’t combat without meeting specific needs. It’s the same with all the other disorders I listed.

Knowing what my child is dealing with also helps me be more compassionate towards them. When I understood that my daughter and son had attachment issues because of their past neglect and trauma, it relieves a large majority of the rejection I felt when they wouldn’t hug me of their own volition, or when they denied my attempts to love them. When I understood that my daughters rages, need for control, and bad behavior stemmed from her past, which then resulted in several diagnoses, I was able to have empathy for her and meet her with a calmness instead of anger and impatience. I know that many of her behaviors weren’t an attack on me personally, they weren’t born of my bad parenting (okay maybe a few were), they were caused by her trauma.

If more people would educate themselves about Autism and what it looks like, I believe people would be more understanding. They wouldn’t see a child misbehaving, they would see a child that can’t sit still because their body is irritated and they need movement. They wouldn’t see a child that’s rude, they would see a child that doesn’t understand society’s rules. They wouldn’t recommend spanking an Autistic child because they would know that it would only confuse the child, and the child would like it because they crave intense sensory input (they hit others, things, and themselves because of how it feels). When used correctly, a diagnosis can bring tremendous insight to a child’s behaviors.

Another concern some have about diagnoses is that it will follow a child for the rest of their lives. In most cases, I believe this is only true if the parents/caregivers or the diagnosed child purposefully carries it with them.

Parents also express concern that the child’s school will know of the diagnosis, but the only ways this would happen is if the parent/caregiver notifies the school, has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for their child that lists the disABILITY or disorder, or signs a consent for the doctor to release the medical records. In our case, our daughter’s school will not know of her diagnoses because her behavior has improved so significantly in the past year that I doubt we will have to mention anything. Whereas before, we divulged some of what she dealt with (adopted, trauma, attachment issues, the “whys” of her behavior, and how to handle it, but no diagnosis shared) with the Preschool and Kindergarten teachers.

A friend of mine recently wrote an article about parents labeling their children. Parents will sometimes say, “My RAD daughter, Kylee,” or “My ADHD son, Marcus.” I don’t think this is okay. I think when it’s absolutely necessary, it’s acceptable to say, “My daughter, Kylee, has RAD.”

So, I don’t see diagnoses as being a bad thing. If truly needed, they can often help us understand what our child is dealing with and how to help them in ways that will be beneficial and not harm them.

If you feel someone else would benefit from this information, please feel free to share.

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finding joy

Raising children with disabilities and disorders is hard, but what most people don’t consider is everything else that plays into the word “hard.” Regular life: Normal life can be stressful for so many, and us special needs parents have to play roulette with that aspect too. Work: Are you self-employed? Is your spouse self-employed? Are changes in the economy affecting you financially? Is work a source of anxiety? Relationships: are all your relationships perfect? Is there tension within your family? Are all your friendships going well? Oh, wait, when you have children with disabilities or disorders you don’t have many close friends. You’re lucky if you have one that understands when you have to cancel a coffee date. If you’re especially fortunate your one best friend is your husband.

Life is rough, life is full of heartache, but much more so when you have a child that struggles every day. You have worry, appointments, do-it-yourself therapy at home, calls to insurance companies, discussions with doctors, horrible days, days when you regret what you say or how you acted, days when you wish for more help, days when your child’s screaming and crying make you anxious and annoyed, days when you worry incessantly about your child’s food preferences (really not preferences, as children with Sensory Processing Disorder will ONLY eat certain foods), days when you worry about their future, and of course add the worries and stress of regular life throws at you.

This list is overwhelming right? It can be, and that’s why I was so relieved to find this blog post by another mom of a special needs child. She says that one of the things us special needs mommies can agree on is not feeling like we have enough help. (Big sigh of “You know what I’m feeling.”) So nice to know that others are in the struggle with me. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t define most of it as a struggle, I am probably one of the rare ones that isn’t sure I want my son’s disABILITY to disappear. I adore him, and a big part of him is his Autism. I wouldn’t know what to do with a boy who didn’t have Autism. Is it hard? Oh God, yes! So, it’s so wonderful to know we aren’t in this alone.

We have two children that fall under this special needs category, and we have been in the “warrior mode” this author mentions far too much. When negatives come into our life, it often makes already rising rapids overflow and soon there is a waterfall of mega proportions. So how do we deal with it? How do we deal with negativity from others, lack of support from family members, friends, or even our spouse? Does joy come in the morning? Without God how do we handle it?

Yes, I pray about it, but some days that torrent is suffocating, and I can’t find my way up and out. On the days when the water isn’t so murky, I focus on my little family and finding joy where I am. This post I will link to also mentions joy.

When I’m not getting the help I need or want, I am thankful we can all go through the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru and eat in the car together, or on our Anniversary we may be lucky enough to sit down as a family inside a restaurant (a loud one, and we might only down some sugar-coated fries, but I resort to a statement I fairly loath, it is what it is). On days when there isn’t a mountain of to-do’s we can relax in our backyard, letting the kids run free. We find things to do that our whole family can participate in, and it isn’t easy, believe me. When I am able I focus on the joy my kids bring me, and push those selfish, nagging thoughts off the cliff before they suffocate me even more, I have joy, I will make it through, and I am not alone.
So onward with the post I am referring to, may it buoy your spirits today as it did mine. May you find joy.
Check Your Heart…