This is a sponsored post in partnership with The Network Niche Influencer Agency and Fun and Function. Special Needs Parenting: My Biggest Fear #empoweringdifferent
Special needs parenting is an ongoing, often up-hill learning curve.
The craziest thing about special needs parenting is that no matter how good you get at it, your confidence doesn’t increase accordingly. Actually, it can weaken, depending on your situation. My situation is that I have six-year-old triplets with Autism. That constant shake in your confidence can happen even when you find your ‘groove’ and learn your children and their disability. Being educated about your child and their disability doesn’t always give you that feeling of power you might be hoping to uncover. For me, there is always an underlying and valid fear about keeping them safe. In fact, that is my biggest fear, especially when I am out with them alone, and there is only one adult to the three of them. If one runs in one direction, and another in a different direction, the moment is full of panic. This happens often.
Autism is deceiving. It deceives the public, it deceives the child, and it deceives the parents. Whether it’s power over a child is overestimated or underestimated, it deceives us all, at times. Take me for example. My children have been working on strengthening their skills and abilities their entire lives. From the time they were born at just over two pounds each, to being diagnosed with Autism, through their first three years of school, and still. I see their work, their successes, and their growth, and sometimes it deceives me. I expect, or believe for a moment that they are like any other typical six-year-olds. They’re not. Sure, they have certain skills that not only mirror your average six-year-old, but some of their skills even exceed those of an average six-year-old. On the other hand, there are things that scare the life out of me. For example, I’m always anxious when I’m cooking. It seems that no matter how many times I teach my children that the stove might be hot and they could get burned, it just doesn’t stick. My children have burned their tiny hands and still reached back out to try to stick their hand into a hot pot of food, because they’re hungry or just because they want to see what mommy is making.
So here is where special needs parenting gets tricky. It is infinitely important that as parents, we do not underestimate the potential and ability of our children. However, overestimating their ability could cost them their life. It’s that serious. It’s that scary.
I know that seeing is believing, so I want to take you on a quick journey to show you just how deceiving Autism can be. To document my message, I took Enrique outside for a little bit, and just let him be. At first, you will notice an adorable boy, who fits the boys-will-be-boys theory to a T. Also, he seems like any other six-year-old. As you go on, you’ll begin to understand my biggest fear, and struggle.
Enrique throws things. Sure, boys throw things. That’s typical. Enrique may or may not have a stopping point at any given moment. He might just throw rocks, but he also throws tables, chairs, forks, scissors, or anything within his reach, at what seems like a random moment. It’s probably not a random moment, but on the outside looking in, that’s how it looks. Something clicks in him, causes a meltdown or a breakdown, and fun turns into dangerous, fast. Special needs parenting has taught me this, over and over again.
Enrique jumps. That seems typical, right? It is, except that Enrique might try to jump from 2 steps up or from 10 steps up, and often is not able to distinguish the shift in danger. He has tried to jump out of windows and from the tops of large furniture items.
Enrique likes to climb. That was one of my favorite activities when I was a little girl. Like mother like son, right? Wrong. Enrique is not selective about what he climbs. He doesn’t consider whether or not something is stable enough to climb. He has tried to climb on glass windows and even cars. Speaking of cars, they are one of his and Andres’ favorite hiding spots.
In fact, parking lots became so dangerous over time for all of my triplets, that they were each given handicap placards. Just imagine if one of them runs off in a parking lot and decides to hide under a vehicle while I search frantically, with the clock racing against what could be their life. It’s serious. The parking lots they are most familiar with are also the most dangerous. School, the doctor’s office, and our own driveway are places they feel so comfortable, they just don’t think twice about bolting out into that dangerous space. There have been close calls. I hate parking lots.
My children talk to strangers, approach them, try to approach their vehicles, and wander off. They elope. Especially the boys. Just last week, Andres was found outside of his school, by himself, by Enrique’s Aide. That day, Andres had a substitute teacher who didn’t even realize he was missing. Things had been going so well. No one expected that, but we know better than to underestimate the dangers of Autism.
So, my biggest, most horrific fear, is really any parent’s fear. I’m afraid of my child(ren)…
Disappearing from my sight. From a place. From this world. There have been too many sad stories. I can’t. For now, I am very particular about where and when I take the triplets out into the world, if I’m by myself. I am confident, yet, afraid. They are typical, yet very different.
As their mother, it is my honor to be a part of #EmpoweringDifferent! That’s what I want to do for them. Empower them. Every. Day. They continue to build their arsenal of strengths, social skills, and cognitive ability. I work hard to make sure that limiting their exposure to danger doesn’t mean limiting their FUN!
So, I’m always on the hunt for the best resources. Recently, I was introduced to Fun and Function. Their main goal is empowering different and they believe that differences make the world a better, more fun, and more interesting place to be. So, I became an Affiliate! They have SO MUCH STUFF! Like, everything I ever thought I needed for my great kids. I LOVE it! Not only is it great to be able to find the right product, just looking online or through the catalog really inspires creative ideas of fun activities for learning and growing.
Fun and Function was started by occupational therapist and mom (of 8!) Aviva Weiss because she couldn’t find kid-friendly sensory tools that would fit her family’s needs. She channeled her frustration and turned it into a passion for creating the best sensory toys and tools on the planet.
Improving the lives of kids with special needs is Fun and Function’s driving mission. Everything they make is kid-friendly, affordable, and most importantly, makes a real developmental and therapeutic difference in the lives of children.
Special needs parenting is hard, but it’s also wonderful, and never dull! Our most recent addition to our indoor-fun list are scooters! They are affordable for any budget and have given my kids hours of fun so far. Also, it’s helped us working on skills such as turn-taking, listener instructions, safety awareness, and waiting. I absolutely love them, and the kids… Well, just look!
I dripped my heart all over this page. I have many joys, and lots of hopes, and that big ugly fear. What is your biggest fear? Share in the comments! I can’t wait to read your stories!
By: Alicia Gonzalez
My youngest has ADD, so I kind of get where you are coming from. He will just wander off sometimes because he’s in la-la land. I have to watch him very closely when we’re out.
Yes Robin! My 12 yo has ADHD and he totally goes into his own world! He has some very similar issues with his younger siblings.
I can’t even begin to understand as I have no children. My heart goes out to you. It’s good that there are things that can help. I wish I could even comment right ut I don’t think I am . I feel less than adequate here. Hugs
Oh My goodness, are you kidding? This is a perfect comment. You read this, and I appreciate that. It’s wonderful being my childrens’ mom, but there are certainly extra fears.
I think I commented to YOU on the wrong comment. Please, know that your comment is PERFECT. Just that you read this, thought about it for a moment, and care at all – makes me smile. Thank you!
He is just PRECIOUS! I had ADHD as a child, and I really feel for my parents. One thing they really held onto was that as hard as it was for THEM….it was MY struggle and a lot harder for me to communicate as a child.
ABSOLUTELY! I just posted a short video about our need as parents to overcome our own egos, in order to act in the best interest of our children. Thank you for sharing!
Jeni, thanks so much for mentioning this! Absolutely correct! While it is hard on parents, it is the Child’s struggle, and keeping that in mind helps to think of THEIR best interests and not just our own egos.
I have a daughter with mild learning disabilites and each day can be challenging to find the right mix for her. Love all the pictures, what a cutie!!
Thank you! I love that you try to find “the right mix” for your daughter. That’s so important. Sometimes, parents focus on just trying to change the child instead of reaching the child on their level.
My kids don’t have any special needs, so I don’t have any fears related to what you have, but I do have fears. My biggest fear is unfortunately inevitable. It’s when they finally grow up and leave. =(
They have so much stuff! It’s such a great resource.
I love the concept of Fun and Function and #EmpoweringDifferent! It seems to have plenty of sensory tools to choose from.
What a great article! It gives a very good idea of what someone goes through in a day with an autistic child. My niece is autistic and my sister-in-law tries very hard with her to make sure she doesn’t disappear run away when she’s not looking.
Thank you, Jeanette. Eloping is a very scary issue that many parents with Autism face.
First of all, I have so much respect for parents of special needs children. My sister is a special needs teacher and hearing stories, I can’t imagine the hardship yet love parents must experience.
Oh, thanks so MUCH for commenting. And, please thank your sister for me! The community of people that support my children makes all the difference, especially in their education.
Oh my goodness, I am ashamed that I have never thought of all of these issues and fears. I don’t know what I would do if my child was found alone outside of her school. I can’t imagine that fear.
No, no! We can’t think of everything. It’s more than enough that reading this made you ponder for a moment, what that might be like. It’s not the first time something like that happened, especially with Andres. I stay worried, but focus on their successes.
I don’t have any children with special needs, but I’ve taken care of a lot of them. My niece is autistic and I’ve cared for many other children that are autistic or adhd. I do daycare here and there, so I have to know how to handle every situation. It can be hard at times for sure. You just have to learn how to handle the situations carefully.
Honestly, it takes a village. You have no idea how grateful I am to the people who support my children, in their lives and in their education. So, thank you!
Amazing heartfelt article. I shared with a dear friend who is new to the special needs/special mom world. Thank You for sharing!
That is so sweet of you. I have some very helpful (I think) articles here on the site, and I hope you’ll invite her to check them out. I’m an ADVOCATE, every day.
I love the pic of your son on the fence! Great post.I have several children with special needs and love the products from Fun and Function.
Thank you! Not only is that his favorite picture too, but I’ve gotten emails, calls, and texts from people who just love that picture 🙂
This was a post full of true emotion! I can’t truly understand what you go through as a Mom to children with special needs but I do see it first hand with a relative who has 2 sons that are autistic. I really admire you! I am totally telling my cousin about Fun and Function products. 🙂
Autism is a serious concern for parents and causes one to think about what to happen with their children once the parents are gone.
Yes, it is so important for parents to think about these things. Many children are able to grow up and live happy & productive lives, with the help of support during the earlier years and through adulthood, they can be ready.
thanks so much for sharing this. autism was a huge concern for a few of my friends. i will def pass this info along.
Thanks so much! That’s my hope, that my stories can be passed along, and help – at least, someone.
Your kids are adorable and so precious! I use to work with autistic kids that were were smart as a whip when it came to taking off or hiding. I know how scary that can be for sure. Be safe with those little angels…you are doing great!
We’re same these are my biggest fear, your little man is so cute and I think he is also cooperate. I absolutely like this idea.