As a kid …
I’ve been on both sides of the special needs parenting relationship. Well, I don’t think I was a special needs kid, but I do have a unique challenge because I’ve been deaf since birth. My parents always told my teachers to treat me like any other kid with one exception: make sure I sat where I could read lips.
However, my parents championing for me didn’t stop there. In third grade, the school put me in the lowest reading level and in the middle of the math level. Mom disagreed with the placement. The school moved me up to the middle reading class and to the highest level math class. It worked well except my mom didn’t like the reading teacher. One advantage of being a “sort of” special needs child is that I picked up this championing skill from my mom and put it to work with my child.
The magnet program started in fourth grade in my school district. The magnet program is an honors type program where kids worked with harder material and faster. I didn’t make the magnet program because my standardized test score wasn’t high enough. Mom had me tutored and retake the test over the summer and I entered the magnet program in fifth grade. It was one of the best years in grade school.
As a Mom …
As a Mom of three kids, I’m on the other side of the coin and have one child with unique needs. While I’m open to talking about what makes him different, I don’t write about it online. It’s not for me to reveal. I don’t want to affect his future (not that it should). You and I know that the Internet has a memory of a million elephants and exposes its memory to everyone.
The downside of not talking about it publicly is that parents in the same situation don’t have me as a resource to know they’re not alone. I came across a blog about a Mom in my situation and appreciated her sharing experiences. Instead of posting online, I talk to parents in my area. However, I sent a message on Facebook to one parent I rarely see to find out how her moving was going. Her family hadn’t moved yet and she told me about her child’s current challenges.
I told her about a program in our public school system. She knew nothing about it. At least, she was in touch with the right administrator who can help her child get into the program that I spoke of.
No matter what support they have, parents of special needs kids never stop fighting for their children. Even with my child in a special program, I have had to go up to bat for him when something wasn’t working.
As a worker …
Thanks to freelancing, I have the flexibility to be there for my kids when they need me without the guilt. While I always put in my hours, I felt stressed when I had to leave the office outside of lunch time. Goodness knows, we have lots of appointments and meetings with teachers. These meetings occur during the day, a time when corporate parents struggle to leave the office. Then, they may have to make up the time by working late — more time away from the kids. A vicious cycle.
Fortunately, more companies offer flexibility. I believe that as long as the employee gets the work done well and meets goals, then flexibility shouldn’t be an issue. Of course, if the hours start shrinking too much — then the manager needs to address it.
Companies may fear hiring parents of kids with special needs or people with special needs. But we tend to stick around longer, which keeps turnover low. When we find a good company that’s flexible, we tend to be more loyal. Because of the work parents do for their kids, they tend to put the same type of knowledge and energy into their jobs. Also, people living with a unique situation have creative ideas because they look for solutions that few need. Just read Chynna Laird’s bio below and you’ll see what an amazing person she is who does more than most parents of children with no unique challenges.
Inspiration for this post …
I wrote today’s post as part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Not Just Spirited by Chynna Laird. The book is a memoir of a mother fighting for a diagnosis when countless doctor’s told her that her daughter was just “spirited.” Chynna shares the heartbreaking reality of mothering a child with a severe “No touch” rule. She calls it “Mothering without touch.” Although Not Just Spirited is the perfect match for parents of children with sensory processing disorder (SPD), the determination and victories shown in the book will encourage anyone parenting a child with special needs or working to overcome an obstacle in their own life.
Chynna has also written a children’s book, I’m Not Weird, and resource book about SPD, At-Home Strategies for Managing Sensory Processing Disorder: A Guide for Parents. She is now working on another book, White Elephants. When not writing, Chynna is a mom to her three young children and a student wokring on her BA in psychology.
If you comment on today’s post by 11:59pm on December 1, 2010, you’ll be entered to win a copy of Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). The unbiased and robotic Random.org has the honor of picking the commenter whose name will go into the WOW drawing for the book. To read Chynna’s post about parenting and a list of other blogs participating in Chynna’s Blanket Tour for more chances to win, visit The Muffin.