Parenting a child with special needs can feel like living in a bubble at times.
It’s actually really easy to forget your child is different to anyone else. That may sound unbelievable but it is true. You have developed a routine, not always by choice but what do you do, shit happens. Then you go along your merry way, living your merry way.
Recently I had a friend visit. This friend is not a close friend, and hasn’t really witnessed the way we live… It was that day, I realised there are many differences in parenting a special needs child. It must have been the way my friend ducked for cover as I leapt past her to investigate the brown smudge on the fit ball. Extra vigilance is required, along with extra time, extra interruptions and loads more to consider.
I sat down and thought about all those little things I do or need to consider because my child is Billy.
1. I vacuum and mop my floors every single night. Actually there are many days I do this throughout the day as well! If you have a child with Autism you may also have a child that is equal to a tornado. Billy is so very messy and if I fail to vacuum and mop, I will need to catch mice instead… Not an option, I don’t do mice!
2. I have about 3 secs to get Billy a drink. If I happen to be preoccupied, like using the bathroom, the jug of cordial is on the kitchen floor.
3. My house is equivalent to Fort Knox. Children with Autism wander, so when you visit please take note of the fire escape plan on my fridge as my doors are always key locked.
4. I am a master hider. Billy is completely obsessed with any device that begins with i, so hiding my iPhone and iPad is a must! If I don’t, it will cost me in data usage or repairs.
5. Always put your clothes away immediately after folding. Yep, I have learnt after spending hours folding the basket of clothes that has almost become another piece of furniture, to put them away or find them thrown across the room.
6. When invited somewhere, always have your own entertainment. It can be pretty boring in the room Billy has retreated to because he is uncomfortable with the environment, so I always have something to keep me entertained.
7. If you need your glasses to read something, hide! Billy has this obsession with glasses. If you get spotted wearing them, they are ripped from your face and thrown at least 5 metres.
8. If it’s brown, smell it. If you visit and you are mid conversation, please excuse me if I happen to leap through mid-air to investigate the brown smudges on my tiles, close to where Billy is, umm sitting.
9. Expect the unexpected. I have become an expert in investigating nudity. I apologise now to my daughters lovely friends who may have been taken back on the few occasions Billy was naked before I could intervene.
10. I have T.V time. I’m talking about myself here. Regardless of whether Billy is watching T.V or not, I am not allowed to touch the foxtel remote until he is in bed, ASLEEP!
11. Always look on the ground.We don’t have a 3 second rule. If it’s on the ground, and resembles anything editable, it’s in Billy’s sights. I need to be on top of this one, as I have discovered how much a Christmas Beetle looks like a chocolate chip.
Above all these things and more, there is one thing that I do which makes all the extra effort worth it. I feel like we have won a gold medal every time Billy does something new such as, making a different sound, letting me brush his hair or following a new instruction.
So yes I need to consider some things that may be different from a family without a special needs child, but I also get rewarded like a champion for it. How can that not be worth it?
Can you relate to any of these? Tell us what you do differently.