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Are you an Angry Special Needs Mom?

You might notice a quiet discontentment. You might not be a yeller or no matter how hard you try you might always end up yelling at your kids.  You might have some weeks where you are patient and then others where you have completely lost all your patience.  You might snap at your husband over nothing.  Sometimes you might even end up in tears.  You might wonder why you are so unhappy and why you can’t catch your breath.  It’s exhausting.

Sometimes, anger isn’t exactly what you think of it as.

Underneath it all is anger.  It’s been a big part of my journey as an Autism/SPD/ADHD mom.  Most of the time I didn’t even know it was there.  Until, it just bubbled up and I couldn’t keep it bottled up anymore.  I needed to start recognizing it and dealing with it. 

Anger just has a way of creeping in.

It’s anger over fighting for answers.

Not knowing what to do.

Feeling lonely.

Unpleasant behaviors.

Being completely broken.

Feeling jealous of others.

And just feeling all the hurt.

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Anger is a symptom.  It’s the result of pain.  Special needs parenting is not an easy journey.  Anger breeds frustration and impatience. 

I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was an angry mom.  I wanted to ignore it.  I felt guilty about being angry, I knew that my child couldn’t help it.  I knew that feeling angry wasn’t helping our situation.  The truth until I finally recognized where my anger was from, I felt empowered by its purpose, the guilt ended.  Instead of letting the anger take over and building into bitterness and defeat, there was so much good to be found. 

Anger reminded me of my needs.

It reminds me that I need to take better care of myself.

It reminds me how fragile our family life is.  How fragile I am.

It reminds me to breathe.

It reminds me that I’ve held on to everything too tight.  I need to let go.

It gets me to check in, are my basic needs met?

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When your child has a lot of needs and you are working so hard all day to meet those needs as a mom you are easily exhausted and by 3:00 anger is already starting to bubble up. 

Today, was one of those days in our house. 

I had hit my limit early in the day, but there was still more day left to conquer.  I was getting Miss S ready for soccer and she was arguing with me and having a terrible attitude for the 100th time of the day.  I reminded her about what we were working on and I was angry.  I wasn’t patient but I wasn’t yelling at her.  The tears started and she said “I never make sense to anyone.”  My heart dropped, I had just told her that what she was saying wasn’t making any sense.  The second she said that my anger disappeared. 

I know the days of living in survival and being angry about it. 

1.    Remember to breathe.
Take extra time during stressful moments with your kids to breathe before you speak.  Breathe before you act and check out for a few minutes if needed to regain your emotional balance. 

2.    Anger doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it means you are human.
Let go of the guilt.  Let go of thinking that you shouldn’t feel this way.  Anger is a God-given emotion.  Use it for good. 

3.    Apologize when needed and always remember to model healthy behavior for your children.
Sometimes, anger wins.  Sometimes, you yell.  You can always apologize, acknowledge your mistake to your kids and remind them how you love and care for them.

 4.     Seek help if needed.
I’m a firm believer in working through the emotions you are battling as a special needs parent.  If you feel your anger is out of control and you can’t get a handle on it, I would highly recommend finding someone to help you learn more coping techniques.  

5. Remind yourself that your child’s struggles are real.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the many challenges our kids have.  It’s easy to get angry about them.  It’s in remembering their difficulties that brings patience and helps quiet the anger.  It’s reminding myself that this is hard for her. Everyday life is hard for her.

 

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and Mommy Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia!

Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!


5 Things You can do to Feel Supported as a Special Needs Parent

I had coffee with another mama a couple weeks ago, her daughter is just a little over 2.  She packed lunch for her and we blocked her into a little area where we were sitting.  For almost two hours we sat and chatted and for the most part this little one ate and played.  Close to the end of our time together, she had broken loose and started exploring the coffee shop.  Each time, her mama would catch up to her, scoop her up and she would giggle in pure joy.

This is a drastically different picture than what we have had raising our daughter.  At that age our daughter would never sit still.  She would be so fixated on what she wanted and there was no holding her back.  Removing her from the direction in which she was going would result in hitting, head banging, biting and screaming at that age.  Our parenting has been nothing short of extreme.

It’s been an uphill battle.

It’s been a process and I only made it through the worst years because of my mom.

We’ve lived in crisis for years and part of our success has been in having support.  It hasn’t been easy to find support, it hasn’t been easy to maintain support.  We often feel like we are lacking in support.  I think a big part of that is feeling like we shouldn’t need it.

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First, ask yourself these questions to better understand why you feel unsupported.

Overall, asking myself these three questions helps me redefine the support that I need and then focus on what I can do.  The first question is, “What’s preventing me from feeling supported?”  Often, this starts with me and my needs.   Do you build walls around your family, because of living in survival mode?  Sometimes, in the middle of trying to be so strong for ourselves we forget to ask for help, we want to conquer this on our own, or feel like getting help isn’t worth it.

After I look at what the why is in preventing me from feeling supported, then I can move onto the next two questions, “How can I better support myself?” and “How can I get better support from others?”  Often, the first things I do for myself is to cut down my expectations and revisit better coping skills.  After that I think about who has offered to help and how I could add that into our lifestyle.  I also try to remember that the next person that offers to help I am going to take advantage of that and say “Yes!” right away instead of saying, “If I think of something I will let you know!”

When we are struggling with feeling supported there are a five things we can do:

Start a support group.

Find other mom’s like you that need support.  One of the benefits of starting a group is that it can also help fill your bucket, sometimes giving to others is the best medicine.  You are not only helping yourself but you are helping others too.

Or if this is a little out of your comfort zone join in a new support group.  You might be surprised by how refreshing it is to find others, even if their stories are different who are experiencing similar changes in their family.

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Think about your coping skills

Sometimes thinking about what is going on in your family, pinpointing what is stressing you out and how you can better deal with it personally can help you come up with healthy ideas to cope with the stress in your life.

Sometimes coping and self-care doesn’t feel like it is worth it.  I often neglect myself, only to pay the price later.  Taking a look at what I’ve forgotten to do and reminding myself that it needs to be a priority helps me remember it is vital to surviving under a lot of stress.

Think about why you don’t feel supported.

Maybe life has gotten really hard and you’ve decided it’s easier to stay home than leave.  I know that feeling and we’ve been there!  Maybe instead of going to the next big family event you could invite one family group to meet at a nearby park.

Sometimes, we’ve put up the walls.  We’ve pulled away from family and friends only to focus on the crisis in our homes.  I am at fault for this one, and I often need reminders to reach out to others.  I get so busy trying to manage our home and keep what little peace we can I forget about everything else.

Make peace with other’s not understanding you.

I crave someone who gets what we are going through.  No one except for you, is going to completely understand your situation.  As hard as they might try, sometimes we can not understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  Make peace with this reality and forgive others for their lack of empathy.

The easy way is to get angry and bitter, fight for being at peace with other’s not understanding your everyday life.  As hard as this is, if you have a friend that doesn’t get what crisis in your home is like but will have a play date with you and not judge your parenting, enjoy that friendship. Sometimes we can sabotage relationships because we just want someone to understand what we are going through.

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Simplify.

Sometimes when life gets overwhelming it’s better to let go and keep things simple.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the everyday battles, the repeated struggles and the inability to function.  Sometimes, less is more.  Sometimes, letting go of what’s necessary is the biggest key to survival.  Taking away my own personal pressure we put on ourselves is sometimes the best way we can support ourselves!

It’s really all about balance, managing the daily crisis in our home with some level of support.  It’s often a very fine balance, which I still struggle to maintain.  Hoping this reminds you to weigh the stress in your family life with support from yourself and from others.

OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

  

  

Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and Mommy Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia!

Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!


 

The Silent Suffering of a Special Needs Parent

In the early days of struggles with our daughter, I would comment about how challenging this was.  A family member was shocked at my comments and told me that I shouldn’t say things like that.

Every doctor appointment we went to, for as small as a sniffle, I would ask them about the struggles we were having in our home.

I sat in multiple Early Childhood parent meetings and complained of our challenges while no one said anything similar. 

I vented to my mom the battles that we had and she silently listened but didn’t know how to respond.

My husband saw me not leaving the house and encouraged me to try, not knowing it was easier to stay home.

And no one knew the depth or the reality of what was going on in our home or in my heart.

As a first time mom I struggled with knowing if this was normal only find out years later that much of our struggles were far from normal.

I blamed myself for a lot of the struggles we experienced during those years.  I thought it was just me, I thought I was just not good at motherhood.

No one knew how the simplest things in our family were the biggest battles. 

No one understood that leaving the house took hours of preparation and lots of tears (from both of us).

No one knew that our home was living in crisis mode. It wasn’t just difficult, it was we are barely surviving this.

No one seemed to understand that getting my child dressed caused her to scream in pain.

My friends didn’t know that I had bruises up and down my arms and legs from being bit, kicked and hit daily.

No one knew that we were so sleep deprived, some days I could hardly function.  And that this lasted for years, not just a season.

Once school started, no one knew that some days I felt like I could hardly make the short drive to pick up our daughter because I would have panic attacks, at what would happen after I picked her up. 

No one knew that we had alarms installed in our house and could lock every single room and deadbolt all the exits to keep her safe.  We lived in crisis. 

Talking about these things with those in our life who weren’t trained therapists became something that I couldn’t bring up.  I had tried in the early years and learned that unless you are living this, there is no way someone would understand.  So, I learned to be silent.

I learned to hide what was happening in our home and I learned that I wasn’t alone. 

I learned that there are too many of us, who hold our secret challenges to ourselves.  We’ve been told things we shouldn’t have instead of being met with, “How can I help?”

If you’ve tried to share your struggles and haven’t had a good response, I am sorry.  I am sorry for the support that you didn’t receive.

If you know someone, or suspect someone is parenting a special needs child, reach out to them.  They won’t reach out to you. 

If you struggle with knowing how to help them, ask them what would help them.  Even think about basic needs for living and find ways to help relieve those areas. 

If you know someone who is parenting special needs, let them know that they can talk to you.  That you might not understand, but that you want to know.  You want to know their world because you care about them.  You want to sit with them and acknowledge that you don’t want them to silently suffer.

Even the smallest thing, like surprising someone with a cup of coffee can make the world of difference to a silent sleep deprived mom.

 

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Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and Mommy Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!

Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!


Dear Autism Mom: It’s just hard.

Dear Autism (insert your child’s diagnosis here) Mom:

It’s not your fault. 

If you are going through your internal list thinking of what you did, where you went wrong and how you ended up in this place.  It’s not something you did.

It’s not something that went wrong.

You are here and it’s not your fault.  It’s just this hard.

As mothers we have this internal dialog that constantly wonders this, is it just me?  Is this my fault?  We have this deep need to make it better, to nurture it away and to be the best, to be everything for our child(ren). 

We think about, why this is so hard and turn inside ourselves that it must be us. 

We get judged by those who are ignorant in our life, that this because of our parenting and this just adds fuel to the fire.

But, I want to make this very clear.  It’s not your fault.  You cannot prevent Autism (or insert your child’s diagnosis here).  You cannot cause Autism. 

You’ve read every article on the HOW, the WHAT and the WHY and you still find yourself thinking that it’s just you.

It’s just that parenting Autism is really hard. 

Did you get that…. It’s just that it is REALLY HARD.

It’s the endless challenges. The constant needs. 

The lack of sleep…. The Why?

The constant work on social skills, on appropriate behavior, and on trying to get them to eat something other than french fries (or insert the only food they currently eat).

The constant need to touch, to move, to spin, to never sit still and sometimes roll across the floor because it just can’t be helped.

The trouble with emotions, with being out of control. A body that flails and fists that form. 

It’s just HARD.

It’s the constant reminders and the never remembering the simplest task.

It’s the hard of the quietness in the lack of words and conversation that you wish was there.

It’s the hard of the grief that you find in this place. 

It’s just HARD.

And you dear Autism Mom, whether or not you know it yet, is that this hard has grown you into something amazing.  This hard has grown your heart to love more, to break more and to not be messed with.

It’s made you into a mom that even though you feel like giving up you never will.  You are fighting the toughest battle you will ever face.  Make peace with the hard.  Make peace with the challenges.

This is hard. 

Find your tribe.  Don’t ever forget to ask for help.  Remember, that you are more amazing than you know.  You are doing all the right things, you aren’t giving up.

Sometimes, it’s just harder than you ever imagined it would be. 

And you are not alone in that.   

For When Your Family Doesn’t See Your Child’s Special Needs…

I’ve never had the kind of relationship with my Mom or either of my parents for that matter that I would have wanted. In fact, growing up I expected to not really talk to them in my adult life. However, things changed I ended up staying in closer physical proximity to them than I expected.

My parents were very excited when we announced that we were adopting. They supported us during our journey and were there to pick us up from the airport. There were days that were so bad during the toddler years that I would call my mom and ask her if she could take Miss Sensory for the next day, because I needed sleep. And I am so grateful that she was there.

But there’s a bigger, deeper part of parenting that I wish my parents were here for. Typical parenting (from what I hear) is pretty challenging, but parenting a special needs child we fight battles we never knew existed.

And one of those battles comes within our own families.

We fight for disorders that appear invisible to those we are related to.

We take each comment to heart. We stand up to those who are supposed to love us the most.

“She’s normal.” “That’s typical kid behavior.” “They’ll grow out of it.”

“You need more discipline.” “There’s nothing wrong with her.” “It’s Ok.”

“That’s normal.”

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These comments hit us deeper than anything anyone else says. Because our families are supposed to be the ones who support us the most and know us better than anyone else. But, that doesn’t always happen.

I wish I could sit with my parents and tell them how much I feel like a failure.

I wish I could tell them about our daughter’s new diagnosis and the treatment plan.

I wish I could tell them about the grief and the challenge of not thinking of her future.

Or comparing her development to another child her age.

We never get too old to need our parents. I still do.

Maybe someday, they will see.

That my child is different than other kids her age.

That I can’t discipline this out of her.

That her challenges aren’t quirks, or accidents, or her feelings getting hurt.

That I could have used their support along the way.

That I am amazing at this.

That this is not normal parenting…

Because she’s just not a typical kid.

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