Families of children with special needs can often feel isolated and ostracized. Our children typically do not meet the milestones and benchmarks that their neuro-typical (NT) counterparts do. Or rather, when our kids do meet them, their timing is very different from their peers. We have social deficencies, language delays, and what many view as "odd" behaviors. While I do not presume to speak for all families living with autism, I know that many of us limit our kids' exposure to activities considered "rights of passage" for the NTs: play dates, slumber parties, organized sports, Disney on Ice...You get the idea.
We don't plan elaborate birthday parties with bounce houses, clowns and pig roasts. We methodically research the least busy times for local attractions and plan escape routes for when the seemigly inevitable meltdowns arise.
We tend to be "in and out" of stores - we just don't dare take our time and browse. We get in, grab what we need and get the hell out - before the dreaded meltdown and angry stares are aimed our way.
As one of my bloggy friends recently lamented, we miss out on standing at the bus stop calmly sipping latte,s kibitzing with the other moms. Our kids ride the special bus. It's door to door pick up and delivery for us.
And, to be honest, sometimes it is just too painful to see the NT kiddos doing things we can only dream of one day seeing our children do. It hurts to see what "could have been."
Too often, the result of even our self-imposed isolation is crushing loneliness and the feeling that we are the only ones experiencig these emotions. The only ones wishing - and dreading - an offer of friendship from other moms.
So what can we do?
Get online! There is an entire community of autism Mommy (and an occassional, awesome Daddy) bloggers. You can find inspirational-themed blogs, bloggers who tell it like it is, older and experienced mommy bloggers who have been where you are standing and have wisdom and advice to share, humours looks at living life with autism - yes, we can even find things to laugh at when talking about our kids with autism. If we can't laugh at some of our kids' quirks, we won't stay sane for very long.
Some of my favorite autism and special needs blogs:
And of course, my blog: Unplanned Trip to Holland!
These blogs are written by real life parents finding and sharing their humorous moments, frustration, and inspiration with the rest of us. If you feel alone and stuck on Autism Island, pop on over to one of our blogs. Come join our community. You are not alone!