Battle-scars and Bruises: Parenting special-needs children

Not many people realize what it takes to be a special needs parent. We deal with more stress than a parent with NT (neurotypical) children do. Children are an unpredictable lot as it is, add in a neurological issue and all bets are off.

Personally, I have two children with high-functioning Autism. They’re happy and random on a good day. On a bad day, they are a force to be reckoned with, and I can promise you the bad days are more often than not after they hit puberty. I get calls from well-meaning friends and family, advising me what I should do, and how I should approach the situation; and although I know they’re just trying to help, they’re not here. They don’t deal with my kids’ little quirks day in and day out. All they know is what they’re told or heard in the background.

My kids are well behaved, all things considered, they know their manners, they know to keep their hands to themselves, and they don’t yell at anyone in public. When we’re home by ourselves, there are times when I need to defend myself. My son hits, my daughter hits, and of course, because of circumstances 6 years ago, I’m doing all of this on my own. It’s not ideal, it’s not pleasant, but it’s happening either way.

I’ve contacted organizations trying to get help with therapies or anything that will deter the violent behavior and I’m usually put on a waiting list and told that because I live in a rural area that certain organizations don’t serve this area. I can’t afford to move; I can’t afford to pay someone to come and help me, so I make it work with what I have and know. I can’t say how well it’s working because I still get bruises and my kids still throw fits. As of right now, there’s not a lot I can do other than try to deter their behavior, practice redirection, and hope for the best.

So, to those out there reading this and totally relating, I get you. I see your struggles, I see your fears, I see your pain and I see your love. I don’t know if this gets any better, but I am hoping it does. Stay strong parents! And to those of you who aren’t special needs parents but feel the need to offer advice. Instead of advice, maybe offer help? Maybe go over and help the special needs parent clean, or give them a break. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to offer help, not advice.

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