Last month, I began guest blogging about life as a special-needs parent for Momnificent!, an outstanding site and business run by Family Success Specialist and Life Coach, Lori Radun.
Here’s an excerpt of this week’s post. Follow the link at the end to read the rest at Momnificent.com!
People say it takes a village to raise a child. But what if that child has special needs? What then? That is: What happens when the village doesn’t know how to raise the child? As a mother of a typical child and a child with autism, I see every day the vast difference between the skills necessary to parent my four-year-old chatterbox of a daughter, who is a typical child, and those needed to raise my six-year-old, non-verbal, energy bundle of a son, who has severe autism. With both kids, as is the case for nearly all parents, learning how to guide them through the world has been an exercise in on-the-job training. However, with my daughter, I have plenty of resources at my disposal when I need advice. I can call other moms or research online for good tactics and strategies. But with my son, I find that, quite often, I’m going it alone. And, some days, I wonder: Where is our village?
For parents of typical children, the village seems to form all by itself. Mommy playgroups and baby gymnastics, daycares and neighborhoods – the village is there for the joining. We moms (and sometimes dads!) form intimate bonds based on our shared experiences in child rearing, become close friends, and care for one another and each other’s children as we would our own families. When we’re sick and our spouses or partners are out of town on business, the village pitches in to care for our kids. When a new baby arrives, that mommy network shifts into high gear with dinners and help around the house. But when a child is diagnosed with autism, the village is at a loss. Those who don’t live in the autism community simply (and understandably) don’t feel prepared to babysit a toddler with autism, as much as they’d like to help by giving that child’s parents a much-needed break. They don’t know how to help or what the family needs, and that means, ultimately, special-needs parents are pretty much on their own.