Kids are kids. Whether they are "normal" or "special needs," they all need the same things. They need love, affection, attention, structure, and a parent who puts them first. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining what it's like to have a child who is on the spectrum.
Here are 10 things I want my mom friends to know.
- I'm Exhausted: Anyone who has kids knows what exhaustion is. My son is autistic and has OCD. In the morning we have to go through a very specific routine or he becomes agitated and cannot get ready for school. Some days I leave the house and I feel like I have already had an eight-hour day. I am not saying my exhaustion is more severe than yours, but my exhaustion is different from yours.
- I Didn't Forget You: Sometimes I get swallowed up by my world. I forget that there are other people out there. I am not trying to be a bad friend. I am not trying to be neglectful. I am simply trying to survive.
- It's Not a Fit, It's a MELTDOWN: I have been at the grocery store and had to leave due to an F-7 meltdown. My middle child used to throw fits in the store; what my son does is not a fit. A fit can be contained or controlled in a short period of time. My son's meltdowns have lasted for hours. I have had to leave stores, doctors appointment, and restaurants. When my son has a meltdown, he cannot control what he is saying or doing.
- Don't Be Sorry: Being supportive and being sorry are two totally different things. I am not sorry that my son was made differently; you definitely do not need to be sorry. He is a blessing. He is hilarious. He is my hero. I never feel sorry for him, and I don't feel sorry for myself either.
- I Will Talk When I Am Ready: If you ask me how things are going with my son, I may or may not want to talk about it. When my son was diagnosed, I didn't tell anyone for about a week, not even my family. I knew he had various issues, but hearing the words, "Your son is autistic," was very hard to hear. Sometimes I want to vent and rant and rave, other times I don't want to utter a word.
- I'm Green With Envy: I am not a fan of the word jealous, but sometimes I am very jealous of "normal" families. I see how easy it can be to pick up and go places without all of the chaos. I forget that my family is the exact type of normal that they are supposed to be.
- Girls' Night Out: If you plan a night out, invite me. I need to go out. I want to go out. If I make an excuse, call me on it. It is important and healthy to get away from the kids and the mess.
- Advice: I love to hear advice. I think that it takes a village to raise children. Give me your tips and tricks, and I am happy to share mine as well. Remember that what works for one may not work for the other. Special-needs children are no different in that respect.
- Don't Say "I Know": If you don't know something, it's OK to admit it. If I am telling you a story about getting my son dressed and how it took me an hour to put on his socks and shoes, and you have never experienced that before, don't say, "I know." Say, "That sucks." Say, "I'm sorry your morning was so hectic." Say, "Wanna have a drink tonight?"
- We Have the Same Job: Don't look at me and think I am doing a different job. The end goal is the same. We want to produce good, honest, moral, happy human beings. We may need to take different paths to get there, but the destination is the same.
Knowing is half the battle. If you have a friend who is a special-needs mom, love her, support her, listen to her, and be there for her.