We’re happy to introduce a new gust blogger to the Special Needs Essentials community, Jenn from Positive Parenting Specialized. We are glad to have her unique perspective on our blog!
Hi there, I’m Jenn, a single mom to a seventeen year old with Global Depression, a fifteen year old with Asperger’s Syndrome (and a hand full of co-morbid diagnosis), a 10 year old with autism, Type 1 Diabetes, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and a 7 year old fireball with Disruptive Behavior Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Learning Challenges, and Anxiety Disorder. I am in my forties and have started blogging to try to support the kids and myself. I love being a work from home mom, praying often that it stays this way.
Life with four children who all have unique challenges might be surprising. Maybe some of these points are “No Brainers.” See for yourself!
Here are Five Things You Might Not Know about Having Multiple Children with Special Needs:
1. We have fun!
Jumping on the trampoline, having pillow fights, going sledding, playing in the
now, etc. All these activities have brought us tons of enjoyment. So when I say I have multiple kids with special needs, please don’t think of us crying in a corner (although, that has happened). I love my kids. I try to support them, cheering them on at every corner.
Other activities that I love to watch the kids do is play in their body socks. They often pack one body sock full of pillows, then all three younger children pile in together. Inevitably, one of them gets upset. It is so fun, while it lasts.
Another fun go to activity we do, is we take a “Sensory Tunnel,” and pull the kids around on a hard surface while they lay on it. They love this! I love hearing the squeals of delight.
2. Diets Can Be Hard
I am a short order cook at every single meal! Even with pizza nights, there just can’t be one pizza. Nooooooo. One kid can’t stand too much spaghetti sauce (it makes him dry heave), another kid can’t have gluten, etc. So, I always end up making a few dishes, much to our Behavior Consultant’s Chagrin.
The adage, the child will eat when they are hungry does not match with autism. At some point my kids have gotten down to just GoGurts as a diet. So, if I find foods they will tolerate, I am happy to have them eat. Sure, life might be more complicated, but I sleep better knowing they are getting more nutrition than GoGurts provide.
3. The Kids Feed Off of Each Other.
This is both bad and good. The bad is that when one melts down or is in a funk, they all tend to go down that path (like babies in the newborn nursery atthe hospital, when one cries, they all cry).
The good side is that when one needs help, they all tend to try to problem solve. Sometimes, the problem solving makes no sense or is completely out of our means, but they try. So I say this to convey, “Kids with special needs do have empathy. It just might look different than what we envision.”
My kids feed into each other, however, they do not copy each other. I wish they did. Then, they might be more compliant. They feed off of each other’s moods, but not their actions.
4. They All Are Different
Three of my kids have been on the Autism Spectrum. Even though they have shared a diagnosis, they couldn’t be more different. My fifteen year old is very rule bound (thank God for him!).However, my younger two can be defiant, liking to color outside of the lines, if you know what I mean. One loves to be naked. All three are frustrated very easily. None of them developed according to the normal milestones.
Even though all three have been on the Autism Spectrum and communicating is difficult, you couldn’t believe how diversely they grate each other’s nerves. They know how to push each other’s buttons.
This is part of a vast puzzle: their repetitive behaviors irritate each other. One paces, another can’t stand it and keeps ordering them to sit down. Another makes constant strange noises, the others beg him to stop. And yet the third, will constantly snap, butt bounce, and body rock. The others will beg me to make it stop.
This sounds like it would be oh so funny, but I assure it is NOT. Be in my house for more than an hour, I bet you would want out quickly, especially right around bed time. Riding in our van can be quite the arduous journey.
5. I Love My Kids Always and Forever No Matter What.
Just like typical kids, I am proud of my Fantastic Four. I know there is nothing they can’t do. It is just inspiring them to do their best, pulling out their unique gifts and talents. The talents come to the surface eventually. It takes a great deal of time. We celebrate everything, especially progress, no matter how small or how long it takes to happen.
I feel special needs kids aren’t THAT different from typical ones. They all love to play, love to have fun. For special needs kids, being able to have fun may be more difficult.
But regardless of any circumstance, I am proud to be their mom no matter what. In the moment, as I am smacked by one of them, I may not feel that way. None the less, in my heart of hearts, I am forever theirs, and they are forever mine.
I am always proud of every step forward and we manage through the steps back. All in all, we are family. We stick together, helping each other through it all.