I feel blessed today. Everyone faces challenges, and those of us raining children with special needs certainly know this all too well. Even so, I am blessed. My children are alive and physically healthy. We have a home and food, clean water and warm clothing. I have the ability to read and learn and research SPD . I am able to help my children and provide them with therapy services. We have supportive family and friends, we have each other, we have love.
It is this last point, support from loved ones, which I focus on today. My son recently turned two and we had a party at my parent’s house. Last year, my son was sick, which did not help, but he was also a very different child. He did not interact or make eye contact much. He did not like people or being looked at or touched. He was afraid of new places and things. This year, though he still kept constant tabs on me, he ran around and enjoyed himself. It was a happy sight to see.
Bud still continues to strongly dislike any unified sounds, like group cheering or singing. Singing happy Birthday REALLY upsets him. Since he was the birthday boy, I informed everyone there would be no singing. For many, it was the first party where they did not sing to the honored guest. For my friends, it was not. A few months back, one of my close friends had us all over to celebrate her birthday. As we were about to sing, I got up to go into the other room and explained that Bud was terrified of the song and we’d be right back after it was over. The birthday girl and all my friends told us to stay. I declined because I did not want her to miss out on her song and celebration on our account, but they insisted. Instead, we went around the table and each person said one of the lyrics of Happy Birthday on down the line until the “song” was complete. I was very moved at this gesture. Perhaps to them it was a given, no big deal, but it was a big deal to me.
After Bud’s party, my Mom said her heart was warmed as she watched my friends interact with Bud. When Bud does a toddler trick, the type of thing you typically cheer and clap for like figuring out a toy or blowing a kiss, they knew to react softly, almost an incognito cheer. Once, the cheering started to get a little robust for Bud’s comfort and as he shot a warning look that told of crying on the horizon, we all quickly muted our cheering for him and he settled back into playing without a further scene. My Mom was very touched as she took note of all this and said she felt like they really made the effort to get to know Bud on his own level and cared about his happiness. Some people would just ignore him because it’s easier than chancing him going off, or because they just do not understand. I am blessed that I have friends who ask questions, who see his strengths, who do not push him or think him odd but accept him and engage with him on his level.
My Mom (and Dad too, but in a quieter Dad type way) have always been completely accepting and supportive of my children and Bud’s special needs. They never pushed him, never dismissed my observations. They have always been and remain crazy about Bud (and Darling of course). My mom actually reads up on SPD, tries to work with him when she has him, and regularly reads this blog (shout out to my Mom if you are reading this!). I know from others that sometimes parents are not this unconditionally loving, so I never want to take it for granted.
Just the other day, my Mom told me she was working on colors with Bud. She had some really good ideas about how to do this, and made sure to tell me what colors she was focusing on so we would be on the same page. Mom thought that if I was working on green and yellow while she was doing red and blue, it might be too much, too confusing. That never even occurred to me, and I thought it was a great idea. I know I have already said my Mom is really involved and supportive, but truthfully this really emphasized it for me. I hadn’t fully realized just how much thought and effort she put into helping my kiddos be the best they can be and now it was my turn to have my heart warmed.
Sure, there is always a bad or misguided apple in the bunch, one that judges or simply does not understand, and by extension is incapable of offering unconditional love and support. I am grateful my parents loved me unconditionally and taught me how to do the same. I sought out friends, though I am sure not consciously at the time, who likewise accept and love. While no one can truly understand what it is like in my shoes unless they have walked the same path, I am supported and my children are embraced and loved as they are. This is all one can hope for, SPD or not. So again I say, I feel blessed today.