Hello to the Parent with the Child on the Spectrum…

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So there’s that good ole’ saying… “Kids say the darnest things…” It is all fun and games until you become a parent, right?

My parenting method, if you really want to call it a method, has been to love them until my heart hurts, do for them anything and everything they need and teach them respect, love and most importantly kindness to everyone and anyone.

My focus has never been to have the perfectly clean home, or the children with the unstained t-shirts, but to have kids that would make friends with the outcasts, offer kind words instead of a HA-HA, and remember to say their please and thank you’s. I am forever grateful that so far, minus a few thank you’s we are doing okay. I always see the blessing in having these two as my children but last week I had the biggest blessing of realizing that my children have kindness in their hearts. It was my Glory Mom Moment!

Mikail my youngest son is not outwardly affectionate. He can be very tough and always reluctant to show his feelings. Although he is friendly he likes to keep his distance. You know… he enjoys the Mikail show featuring himself. (hope this explains why he takes up all my IG camera time and Malik choses to stay away from any camera.) He has a mind of his own and has a pretty stubborn personality. And he gets away with most of it with his piercing blue eyes and annoyingly cute smile. But I always fear I will have a “oops umm… kids say the darnest things?” moment with him. Surprisingly, so far… so good … We have had more proud mom moments than oops moments!

Last week when dropping him off at preschool a little boy ran up to him and hugged him. Without hesitation Mikail hugged him back and said, “good morning! How is your day? I missed you.” I was more than a little shocked! Mikail is always a nice kid, specially to others, but I had just witnessed an out of the way kind moment for him.

I have been on a few field trips and school events to notice that this specific child struggles in many situations with self control, listening to instructions and getting frustrated easily. As I was walking out a parent stopped to tell me that this little boy has a lot of trouble in class. She mentioned Mikail has become friends with him and it has truly helped to shape this little boy’s behavior in the classroom. Yes, my heart melted. I was informed that there are children in his class of all capabilities but I am very blind to that as I just see kids as kids. Any more than 3 in one place is hell regardless! Just kidding… kind of… Point is I couldn’t tell you which one of those children may actually have a learning disability and which ones are just choosing to ignore instructions. But apparently my son had it all figured it out…

When picking up Mikail from daycare, I asked about the boy at preschool. He started talking 100mph. Here was the eye opening portion that I picked up, “mommy he doesn’t act very good in school. Not like my kind of bad, because you know if I want to listen I will, its just sometimes I don’t want to, so I don’t. But he can’t listen! He doesn’t know how to, but he tries, he really does. I seen him try. But I think it is really hard for him, so sometimes he cries and gets upset. I help him and I play with him because it makes him happy to play with me even when he’s upset. And I think that helps him because then he’s being good. And he is a nice boy. And his mom and dad should know that but he doesn’t act so good at school all the time so I think the teachers tell his mom that. But if I am good to him and he be’s good, then his mom will be happy with him, like you with me.” (and yes he says be’s… and I think its the cutest thing ever. And no I will not correct him…not yet at least)

In my 27 years of age I realized in that moment that I could not empathize with the parent of a child on the spectrum. But some how my 5 year old son had found a way to find the deepest amount of sympathy and offer all of his kindness to this little boy.

So this is to the parent of a child on the spectrum.

I can’t possibly imagine how hard your bedtime or morning routine can be. I have no idea how defeated you may feel at the end of a simple task like dressing your toddler or getting them in the car for preschool; only to drop them off and feel a huge guilty sense of relief. Knowing that they are trying, and you are trying but there is no middle ground because there is something over powering your little guy and their will to want to listen. Not just the I am 5 and I don’t want to listen kind of behavior but the uncontrollable, unstoppable kind of behavior that leaves you feeling helpless and sometimes hopeless. I can’t imagine how many extra hours in a week you spend on homework, or trying to engage in conversation at the dinner table or how difficult it must be to explain a task 2, 3 or 4 times.

I realize you still have to go through your grocery list at Costco while your child is performing their best tantrum work or waiting room game at the doctor’s office while your child is sprawled on the floor and refuses to get up. You are possibly sitting in fear at the salon chair for a quick eyebrow wax wondering if your 5 year old has ripped through the product shelves on the store display in anger. Or maybe your battling the fact that every time someone, adult or child, says hello he or she retreats, panics or gives some sort of awkwardly uncomfortable reaction. Maybe you are worrying about your child making friends at school, hiding out in the bathroom to avoid other children in the cafeteria or being the last at everything because they are over thinking every situation.

I am not here to give you the stare, the look, the feeling of what the hell am I doing wrong? I am telling you that I am sorry that you feel alone. I am sorry that you feel that you have to be sorry for your child’s behavior. I am sorry that the world knows how to talk about ADHD, ADD, Austism or Asperger’s but we are still learning how to react to it. I am sorry that we don’t know just yet how to help you cope with it. I am sorry that we may not know how to translate our concern other than to stare. I am sorry that we don’t know the right way of helping out in a tough situation in public. I am sorry that we haven’t spent enough time teaching our children to offer extra kindness to your child.

It is not you. It is us. It is the parents with the blessing of not having this daily battle and taking it for granted. So help us, help you. It takes a village right? Let us be your village. Coming from a parent who has not had experience with a child on the spectrum, we want to help, but maybe we just don’t know how. Because only through our kindness will our children truly learn to be kind themselves. In my home that is my number one goal; to raise children to wake up spread kindness, hopefully receive kindness and live the meaning of being kind to one another. To raise these kinds of children it takes parents like you to show us the struggle you go through every day; but also your spirit of trying again in the morning.

For the moms, dads, grandparents, foster parents, teachers and family of those dealing with a child on the spectrum you are the real MVPs. Thank you for the patience, kindness and love that you show these children and for reminding us of the big blessings in our lives. And for the parents looking to help I am going to share a few links below that have helped me understand a little better. And not to worry, one thing for sure is whether your child is or is not on the spectrum we all feel that sense of relief after dropping them off at preschool. 😉 No guilt here! Good luck to us all on raising these little humans and let us all remember to be another parent’s village. Whether it is for a minute, a day, a week or a lifetime of friendship, we all need that extra hand at some point.

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/add-adhd/adhd-and-anger-what-you-need-to-know

https://iancommunity.org/cs/articles/parental_depression

http://autismnow.org/in-the-community/

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