Just the other day, for the first time I said, “I am a special needs mom.” You would think after parenting for 21 years, and my youngest being 11 years old, that those words would have been said before.
Actually, I grew up in the special needs community. My older brother has Downs Syndrome. Forty years ago my mom went against the norm and brought my brother home to live instead of an institution.
With these life experiences, you might think I would have avoided the pitfall of island-living but sadly, in the throes of survival, I even encouraged it to happen.
Yes, it became easier to stay home and ignore the need for social interactions.
When most people do not know what to say or how to handle meltdowns or medical issues it becomes easier to avoid public situations.
You stop looking for group activities and you stop inviting people over to your house. If the one time you make an attempt to connect, you find yourself to only be judged by your parenting skills, you cringe even more about seeking people to be part of your life.
Then Sunday morning becomes a battle and no longer a safe place with triggered meltdowns. If the Sunday school teacher would just understand your child will not touch glue or get his hands dirty.
Before long you realize you were so worried about your child making friends, YOU you don’t have any. You are alone on your island.
Living on an island usually conjures up great things like relaxing on warm sand by clear blue water. But when you have been on the island for weeks watching other ships sail by and hearing the fun noises from neighboring islands, you have a bigger battle on your hands.
Life without community.
In your exhaustion of parenting a special needs child….You have to battle being alone on your island. Click To Tweet
It takes so much courage to allow another mom into your life, especially when others have judged. The bigger fear ~ when no one even tries to get to know you or your kids.
When will the world stop seeing my kid’s meltdown as being about my parenting skills but that it is from my kid’s overwhelmed, highly sensitive system?
I do not have some great list of do these 5 things and you will find a tribe of people on your island.
Often we desperately need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and words to equip us to keep moving forward.
But I do have one thing to ask.
Can you keep trying?
If your church body doesn’t support you, try another church. If you cannot find a church in your area, then pray about blazing a new trail at your current church. Meet with the pastors, explain the needs, and help educate them on how they can help cultivate a community. Maybe you go to church just for the singing or at the end to help clean up.
Keep reaching out to other moms. One day you may find that you are the lifeline to another mom. I know people are going to hurt you along the way but you need to find your tribe.
We moms have a radar system. You know when all of a sudden you decide to homeschool and everywhere you look there are things about it. Now tune that system in to finding your tribe.
Keep on doing an amazing job raising your child.
Stacey Lane has been homeschooling for over 15 years. Her four vastly different children lead her to the tagline of her blog, I Teach the Way They Learn. Stacey has been blogging for 3 years at LayeredSoul.com. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter for more real life.
Be sure to read our series, Coping Skills for Families Living with Autism, to receive continued encouragement as you journey along this special needs path with autism.