Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This is NOT a spectator sport

Has anyone else had the thought that being the parent of a special needs child is like EXTREME parenting? Parenting by itself to a typical child is like golf, baseball, or basketball. Each parent chooses the style that best suits them to games that almost everyone at least knows the basics of. Not to say parenting is a walk in the park, because it's not. You sure break a sweat and get a nice work out. Parenting a child with special needs is like, all of the sudden being handed a snowboard and asked to go down an expert black diamond run. Or how about that moment when you all of a sudden feel like you are in a free fall, when you realize there is something wrong with your child?

There are lots of different Extreme sports just like there are many different special needs. They all have different rules and require different skills and the only way you get good at them is practice and time, and a LOT of self sacrifice. I guess the biggest difference is that you don't get a choice. You win the worst lottery out there, but there is always rewards, even if they are hard to find sometimes. Also extreme sports fans seem almost obsessive about their chosen sport and can appreciate that same zeal in fellow aficionados even if they love an entirely different activity. It's the same for special needs parents. They turn into advocates and pretty much eat, sleep, and breath whatever special need dominates their lives. They can also appreciate what it's like for other parents even if they live with a completely different set of issues. Maybe the isolation and love of our unique amazing children unite us. Or maybe it's the humbling moment of acceptance that the world is harsh and you want it to be softer for your child and ANY other child or person that doesn't live up to that heartbreaking term "normal".

My extreme sport is Autism. I think Autism is like the UFC. It certainly kicks my ass sometimes. It feels like ultimate fighting but I'm pretty sure I'm NOT going to be the champion.  My awesome little guy might be though. It's just that the fight isn't over and never will be. He will fight it his whole life and never get a break from training and duking it out with the world at large. All I can do is be his coach and sit on the side lines hoping he doesn't get too hurt and soothing him when he inevitably does. Cuts and bruises aside, there is nothing like the moments when he SHINES.

With Autism its not "Hey Mom, I'm hungry" Its: Hey mom try to figure out what I need while we both get frustrated.

It's not "What should we have for dinner?" It's "What will you EAT without screaming from the room if I put it in front of you"

It's not "Oh, my child is such a chatterbox! All I want is a little peace and quiet." It's "I wonder if he will ever have a conversation with me or speak in complete sentences."

It's not "Hey let's go to the store" it's "Do we REALLY need toilet paper?"

It's not "Don't you take that tone with me!" It's "OMG did you hear him use that inflection in his voice?!"

It's not " Look at me when I'm speaking to you!' ...well I guess that one is the same except maybe a little more like "Hey buddy, remember to look at my eyes when I'm talking to you"

And with high functioning Autism it's not "Get him away from the computer before he messes something up." it's more like "Get him off the computer before he spends $500 on Amazon!"

I only know what it's like to play Autism, but I have EXTREME empathy for all of my fellow extreme parents. We are a breed apart and I have never met another group of people that are so supportive and giving. Always willing to share advice or just a shoulder, without saying "It could be worse." or "It'll get better." Just "I understand." That is the most soothing balm for the black eyes and broken bones that come along with living this extreme life.

Maybe we should call it extreme kidding because folks, let's face it, when raising a special needs child, a sense of humor is essential. :D


  1. Dad Does It Different sent me here. LOVE THIS POST! Thank-you so much for sharing this. You've put into words a lot of feelings I never really could get the hang of expressing myself. :) I will definitely be passing this blog on to my friends. :) Thanks :)

    David's mom (Crafter Dream)

    1. *blush* Thank you! This analogy has been floating around in my head for about 3 years since our son was diagnosed at 2 with High Functioning Autism. I finally got around to making it a cohesive thought ;) Just call me the LAZY blogger! LOL

    2. Hey, blogging with a special needs kids in the house can cause delays. lol I know that one personally as my oldest son (David) is diagnosed with Autism too and they're thinking my youngest (Joshua) may have it too. My blog hasn't been written in lately because I am too busy with them. lol :)

      Can't thank you enough for this post though. It really is wonderfully done and I love the analogy you used. Fits perfcectly! :) It was well worth the wait :)

    3. Thank you! Right now my three keep me busy: a six year old an almost five year old(my asd man) and a 4 month old, mmhmm. LOL Mostly I've found that if I want to finish a blog I have to get up at 4 am to work on it, and usually my pillow wins out on that battle :D

  2. Hello.. I found your blog from There's Tullips in Holland. I am the mother of a son that even the Specialist says is "COMPLEX"..(always a great diagnosis when that is their first comment-LOL). He is 11 and has Pdd/NOS, mild mental reatrdation, seizures, to name a few and I am ALWAYS looking for blog of Mothers and Fathers that "GET-IT" if that makes sense. I would LOVE for you to visit my blog @ http:/

  3. Love this post! I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award, if you're interested.:)

  4. Stopping by from Texas Bloggers. Beautiful photo of your children and a beautiful post. I love the Serenity Prayer. I'm a relatively new mom and it's the hardest thing I've ever done (but the best). I have beyond respect for moms who walk this journey with a gamechanger like special needs as well. Kudos to you and moms like you. It is such a sign of grace and strength to have the sense of humor you do- made me smile. Kathy Penney @ Pinner Takes All