Welcome to the March 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With Special Needs
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how we parent despite and because of challenges thrown our way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I’m rocking the initials here, because I haven’t had a chance to chat with K’s mom online. While I know her well enough to know that she would be okay with my sharing my perspective on our time together — better safe than sorry.
When I was 18 I nannied for a little boy (K). He had some severe asthma, but K was a bright, happy toddler who happened to trouble hearing that impeded his verbal development. By the time he was kindergarten — when I visited him last several years ago — you wouldn’t know he faced any obstacles as a toddler at all. In terms of having special needs, I suspect K was as lucky as you could get.
K was just three months when I met his mother (A); I was 14. He was the first openly breastfed baby I met; when A pumped, she did it while I was there and was even comfortable with that fact that I stared in open awe. In the coming years K was the first child I watched overnight; A’s family was the first I met that co-slept. A was first mother I met who was really different, and I was amazed.
Seeing the way A raised K influences a lot of my parenting, even eleven years after I first met her — especially because of all the challenges K (and A, as his mother) faced.
About a month after I graduated high school I moved in with A and K, who was three. We were great friends, and she worked long hours in healthcare. I lived with them for six months, and I probably learned more than I left behind.
Let me give you some background. K’s asthma was so severe that he took two medications every morning. We were always on alert for things that might stuff him up, because they could rapidly become emergencies. I took him to his first fireworks display that July with a diaper bag full of emergency supplies, just in case the smoke gave him trouble. Anything that caused him to get stuffed up was a problem. When a cold hit the house, we went on full alert.
More difficult was the communication. I admit that at 18 I didn’t really grasp the problem, but it boiled down to this: K couldn’t hear sounds correctly, and thus wasn’t able to speak. If you didn’t know K, you didn’t understand him — it was that simple. A was divorced, and when K’s dad would call he didn’t understand a word he said on the phone.
Living with A was difficult, but she taught me a lot about how to be a parent. More than the style and values I picked up from her, there was more to it than that. A was under a lot of pressure, and I got to see what parenting gracefully under pressure looked like — and sometimes, what it looked like when it fell apart.
She never, ever treated K like he was broken. Sometimes he would just lose it, being so frustrated that he couldn’t communicate. It would stress me out — it would stress her out — but she took everything as it came. She didn’t try to control things she couldn’t, while staying as informed as possible on what she needed to do as his mother.
She never shied away from the fact that her son had problems speaking. If someone wanted to know why he couldn’t speak correctly, she just told them: “He has trouble hearing, so he doesn’t know the right sounds.” There was never any shame to it. She never got upset when people didn’t understand, even if she would rant later if they chose to be rude or dismissive.
She taught me that it’s okay to accept help. And that it’s okay not to have it all together all the time. Sometimes, while K was otherwise occupied, we would sit on our porch and she would just unravel. She loved her son, completely and absolutely, and was still sometimes be so utterly exhausted with him.
She taught me not to worry. Worrying wasn’t going to change what K was going through.
Now that I have a three-year-old of my own, I recognized the signs that he was behind verbally — it’s rather uncanny. His doctor confirmed our concern, so next month he’s scheduled for an evaluation handled by the local school district.
I’m not worried. Whether his delay is because he doesn’t have the right outlet to develop his language skills or because of something more serious, I have an idea of what’s ahead and how to deal.
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 13 with all the carnival links.)
- What is ‘wrong’ with you’ The challenge of raising a spirited child — Tara at MUMmedia discusses the challenges of raising a child who is ‘more’ intense, stubborn, and strong willed than your average child.
- Tips for Parenting a Child With Special Medical Needs — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares her shortlist of tips she’s learned in parenting a newborn with special medical needs in a guest post at Becoming Crunchy.
- Parenting the Perfectionist Child — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses that as parents of gifted children, we are in the unique position to help them develop the positive aspects of their perfectionism.
- Montessori-Inspired Special Needs Support — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives a list of websites and blogs with Montessori-inspired special-needs information and activities.
- Accommodating Others’ Food Allergies — Ever wonder how to handle another family’s food allergies or whether you should just skip the play date altogether? At Code Name: Mama, Dionna’s friend Kellie (whose family has a host of allergies) shares how grateful she is when friends welcome them, as well as a list of easy snacks you can consider.
- Only make promises you can keep — Growing up the child of a parent with a chronic illness left a lasting impact on Laura of A Pug in the Kitchen and what she is willing to promise for the future.
- A Mom and Her Son — Jen at Our Muddy Boots was fortunate to work with a wonderful family for several summers, seeing the mother of this autistic son be his advocate, but not in the ways she thought.
- Guest Post from Maya at Musings of A Marfan Mom — Zoie at TouchstoneZ is honored to share a guest post from Maya, who writes about effective tools she has found as a parent of two very special boys.
- You Don’t Have to Be a Rock — Rachael at The Variegated Life finds steadiness in allowing herself to cry.
- When Special Needs Looks “Normal” — Amy at Anktangle writes about her experience with mothering a son who has Sensory Processing Disorder. She offers some tips (for strangers, friends, and loved ones) on how to best support a family dealing with this particular neurological challenge.
- Special Needs: Limitation or Liberation? — Melissa of White Noise describes the beauty in children with special needs.
- How I Learned It’ll Be Okay — Ashley at Domestic Chaos reflects on what she learned while nannying for a boy with verbal delays.
- Attachment Parenting and Depression — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how attachment parenting has helped her get a clearer image of herself as a parent and of her depression.
- On invisible special needs & compassion — Lauren at Hobo Mama points out that even if we can’t see a special need, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
- Thoughts on Parenting Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares her approach to parenting twins.
- ABCs of Breastfeeding in the NICU — Jona at Breastfeeding Twins offers tips for establishing breastfeeding in the alphabet soup of the NICU.
- Life With Michael – A Mother’s Experience of Life With Aspergers Disorder — At Diary of a First Child, Luschka’s sister-in-law Nicky shares her experience as mother to a child on the Autism Spectrum. It is filled with a mother’s love and devotion to her child as an individual, not a label.
- Raised by a Special Needs Mom — Momma Jorje shares what it was like growing up as the daughter of a mother with a handicap.
- Becoming a Special Needs Mom — Ellen at These Broken Vases shares about becoming the mother of a child with Down syndrome
- She Said It Was “Vital” — Alicia of Lactation Narration (and My Baby Sweets) discusses the conflict she felt when trying to decide whether therapy was necessary for her daughter.