Today, on this last day of 2016, I look back at the year that is just about to end. What a difference a year makes! I am filled with pride at the many things my two boys, who have autism have managed to accomplish. Yes there were many challenges, a few medical, some behavioural and some social. That however, is not what stand out for me from this year. What stands out for me are all the victories throughout the year that make me immensely proud to be their mama.
Some of my proudest moments can only be truly appreciated by other Special Needs Parents who have learned to appreciate the seemingly small, the quirky, and sometimes funny victories of our kids.
Between them, my two boys have provided me with plenty of Proud Special Needs Mama Moments in 2016:
Enduring Medical Appointments
At some point this year, it felt like my car was capable of driving itself to the Children’s hospital, we had so many appointments. A few years ago the mechanics of physically keeping my son in the room for an examination and tests would have been all-consuming.
In 2016, I was able to relax and even buy a coffee while we waited. It was easier to explain procedures to my son and get his cooperation, at least as long as there were no needles involved! Yes, I still had to me more vigilant than most parents around me, my kids needed extra help staying patient while waiting but compared to even a year ago, it was a breeze.
Since we live in the frozen North, skating is something most kids learn from a very young age. I only started taking lessons in 2015 and it was quite challenging. I was told it’s much easier for kids. Still, I wondered if it would indeed be easier for my kids.
I did my research, spoke to the skating instructors who even took my son on the ice and assured me that the classes would not be too much for him. I tried to enrol the boys then but since the season had already started, I couldn’t get then in.
When registration opened for the 2016-2017 season, I was one of the first to register. When the boys showed up for the first lesson, I found out that not only were the two instructors I had consulted previously not present but they had left the club entirely! The people now in charge were not sure they could accommodate a child with special needs. Thankfully, the club was open to making adjustments. As for my boys, I could not have anticipated how quickly they would take to skating and how much they would love it.
We really don’t know for sure what our children are capable of, special needs or not. All we have to do is try.
Arguing and Negotiating
Since the Summer, my son has learned to argue and negotiate over just about EVERYTHING I tell him he can’t do or have.
I waited for this for so long.
Okay, not exactly this but if your child is non-verbal or was non-verbal for a long time, you know what I mean. His language is still severely delayed but he made noticeably huge leaps over the Summer, enough to hold his end of the argument!
Solo Part at School Concert
I was completely taken by surprise, neither the teachers nor my son had given us any indication. We went to the holiday concert as usual. My son’s class was performing two songs and at the beginning of the first song, my son wasn’t even singing. After reluctantly joining in, I thought he was walking off the stage when he moved to the side, approached the microphone and sang. I was completely gobsmacked!
You have to understand that this is a child who is completely attention-shy. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to take a photo of him. When he again approached the microphone during the class’ second performance, I was a little bit more prepared and my little guy sang even better. This time, I was actually able to keep my hands on the phone and take a video of his performance instead of having my hands over my mouth is surprise.
Well done ET, you mama is so proud of you!
Camping Challenges Accepted
I grew up camping and loving the outdoors. Naturally, I always thought I would share my passion with my kids one day. This Summer, the boys and I camped in a tent in our backyard several times. Our family also went to a Special Needs Families Camp, with the studier construction of a cabin that my husband preferred. We all had an amazing time with no television, WiFi or car for several days.
For children who used to be reluctant to try new things, they did amazing and I am really looking forward to more camping trips.
I know many people say that children with autism need routine and predictability, I have always chosen not to follow that advice for my two children. I consciously add changes to their routines. The result for us is that a child who would have a full blown meltdown if I took a different route home from daycare, can now happily sleep in a rustic cabin and take a shower in a different building that’s full of spiders. I couldn’t be more proud of his journey thus far.
Speaking a Second Language
I would have missed it if I didn’t happen to be within earshot of my son and his friend who were playing in the basement. I don’t know what game they were playing but I heard my son speaking in French for the first time!
All those hours in speech therapy and the money, oh the money just to get him to speak English. Maybe I wasn’t ambitious enough for my son but those days I would have been happy with just one language, two was just plain greedy. I am so thankful that my younger son no longer has a language delay in English and that his French is coming along.
I have no idea what the New Year has in store for my boys but I know they will give me many more things to be proud of. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. Take a moment to look back at what your child achieved in 2016.
I bet they will make you proud!