Being a parent of an Autistic/MR child is like being on a roller coaster; you have ups and downs, good days and bad days. However, for some of us, the bad days can turn into weeks or even months. Summer is usually a very stressful time at our house with Christian home. He needs to be kept busy and if he is not on a schedule with set activities or places to go he starts to get bored, which leads to irritability which then leads to massive meltdowns. Meltdowns are when he begins to scream, bangs on things, breaks things and then will start to hit and kick me. Thanks to a local organization that discharged my son from their summer program (which they stated that he always did well in the summer), we are now more at risk for meltdowns and we usually dread the summer season. It is very hard to find other summer programs that accept special needs children.
However, with all of that being said, in order to keep moving forward it is important to always find and make note of the “good things”; no matter how small they may seem. For example, if your child is well behaved for 20 minutes out of the day – that is something positive to focus on. It can then help the parents to figure out what helped him or her behave for that twenty minutes? Was is a certain type of activity at a certain time? Was it lunch? Was a friend over? Was it more quiet at that time?, etc.
This is why I try to make it a point to post on Facebook when Christian has had a good day, and of course, when he sleeps through the night (a massive problem we suffer with, he usually is up at 3:00 am); as well as every time he tries to talk to another child in a public place, or when he helps pick up around the house or when he does something funny; I will post it. It is nice when other people can also comment on his accomplishments.
Unfortunately, for me, there are more negatives than positives when it comes to raising my son. In the past year, I am happy to report that the positives are increasing. However, as I have learned, and also just recently with my last blog post, people don’t always like to hear the negatives. To some people, there should be no negatives. Well, that would be lying – contrary to what other people have said, I do NOT lie. I have always stated the facts and speak up when I do not think something is right. People don’t always like that.
Finding the Good is hard. It is hard, not just because raising our type of children is hard, but it’s even harder when you have to deal with ignorant, discriminating and insensitive behavior. For example, last Spring I took my son to McDonald’s, (he is now on a gluten-free diet so we no longer go there) this is the only place I could take him where he would sit and eat like “normal “people do. This is a moment in time where I actually feel “normal” and was very grateful for his good behavior. Christian was very excited and was making some sounds and talking, and of course, he was a little loud. Again, we are at McDonald’s. An elderly woman sitting at the table in front of ours, her back was towards Christian, turns around looks at Christian, then myself, and rolls her eyes and shakes her head. Yeah. Really?
YOU ARE AT MCDONALD’S! Not Starbucks or a five-star restaurant! You don’t go to McDonald’s to enjoy some quiet time! It’s McDonald’s – a place for kids! Do you go to Chuck E. Cheese to enjoy a cup of coffee? No. Yes, Christian was a little loud; not screaming or yelling, if he did I would correct him. He was simply enjoying himself and no one else there seemed to have any issues with him. So even though the woman made it clear to us she was not amused by his behavior, I still focused on the good part of that lunch. For 20 minutes, we were like everyone else.
Keep a journal or posting any type of “good” your child accomplishes can keep you moving forward. Please ignore ignorant people, like the one I just described above and do NOT let people bully you into thinking that your opinions about your child or how you wish to raise your child are wrong.
I know how extremely hard it is to be positive when so much negativity is around you. Try to “Find the Good” and reward your child when they do something good or hit that milestone you have been waiting for.