After a combination of a recent trip over the mountains to visit my family as well as the holidays that are barely done, I have felt a growing need to write up and educational pamphlet for my family and friends. I don’t expect my family or friends to understand the ins and outs of living life within the context of two children with special needs. But if I could leave out a display of pamphlets for people to take when they come to visit, or have a stack on hand to distribute when we visit someone else, it would save me so much stress and gray hair.
1. Yelling to announce your arrival to the entire family when you come through the door is above and beyond what my kids can tolerate, when combined with the noise of all the other people who are already in the house.
2. Marveling at how Boy 1 or Boy 2 just don’t listen, and then commenting, “You always stopped when I told you to. You knew when enough was enough”, is not helpful. In fact, it feels like a thinly disguised insult.
3. If you know that Boy 2 has an impressively difficult time with impulse control, please do not put any delicate decorations within his grasp. I am not an octopus and don’t have eyes covering all angles of my head. It is physically impossible for me to watch him every single moment in order to guard your fragile goods.
4. I brought three full bags of groceries and a cooler full of food for my children. Please don’t complain about them refusing to eat the supper you made. I already planned out all their meals and snacks so that you don’t have to accommodate their food allergies and intolerances, as well as their selective eating habits. Look at it as less work and worry for you!
5. On a similar note, it doesn’t help anything when you continuously comment that Boy 1 won’t eat meat. He hasn’t since he was a baby, and I am not expecting him to anytime soon. Again, I am the one who has to worry about how he gets protein into his diet when he is a picky eater because of textures and smells.
6. Saying that you don’t understand why Boy 2 can’t seem to hear his name when you call to him in a noisy room makes me want to pull out my hair. He has sensory processing disorder. He is most significantly affected by sounds and touch. Even having the radio on the lowest volume notch is sometimes too much for him.
7. Boy 1 and Boy 2 need quiet play time when there are large family gatherings. Please don’t be offended if one of them need the playroom to themselves for 30 minutes. Not allowing them to have that time to decompress will result in a meltdown of epic proportions.
8. I don’t expect you to devote your free time to research, the way I have. However, it would be nice if you did a little bit of reading to find out the very basics, at least, to understand Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. To me, it is a gesture that says you care and want to understand.
9. Understand that you are only seeing a small glimpse into our lives. If the boys are bouncing off the walls right now, they will be for the next few days while their sensory systems try to calm down and reach a stable level, again. It will be my job to help them reach that level of stability and manage the outbursts and tantrums that ensue during the following days.
10. Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder are disabilities that DO NOT reflect my parenting. A good spanking or firmer discipline are not the solution. These special needs require that I adjust my parenting to meet their needs and communicate my expectations for safety and proper social behavior in a way that my children understand, and that encourages their hearts.