There is no denying that being the parent to a child with special needs requires a great deal of attention, but it is not cause to shove your neuro typical child to the side as you do so. The very heart and soul of this child is carved out by your intimate dealings with them. Despite the strong fact that one child may require a lifelong personal escort does not negate you from giving all you have to the one you unjustly classify as “your easy child”. The glaring fact is you can do irreparable damage to a child unintentionally when you overlook their needs in order to meet the needs of the one who has fallen behind. Even though they are brilliant capable independent children they are still desperate for eye contact and that will never change.
My youngest son is an intelligent animated happy boy. He holds a plethora of deep thoughts and is prone to thinking and behaving like an adult. This is partly because it’s in his DNA but mainly because he has two siblings who are on the Spectrum. This forced him to the front of the class quickly, a position he boldly took, but with great repercussions.
Early on I was quick to grab him and pull him back in place. He’s the baby and he needs lots of love and attention. He needs my time and patience. He deserves the maximum capacity from me as he grows, falls, walks, and runs. But as dealing with my two neuro diverse children became more and more taxing, I gave more and more slack on the rope to my youngest until one day he had all but disappeared.
The happy bubbly little boy I knew was not there. He was now a grumpy, angry, clingy, unreasonable judge. And judge me he did! He found fault with everything I did. He wanted to be with me but could not stand me. He was angry at me and didn’t know why.
He was suffering internally, and I had not realized it because I was laser focused on my other two children. I was so use to his impressive independence that I just assumed he was okay. But he wasn’t.
My son is not a grown up. But I was treating him like he was a tiny adult. Depending on him to emotionally fend for himself. While he might wipe the floor with me in math no matter how mature he is, his mind is not equipped to live life without being close to mommy. At ten years old I pushed him out the nest because it was easier for me to forgo the responsibility of meticulously mapping out how to bring him along on this journey called Autism and because I had a bit of a God complex and refused to pass the ball to my husband. I would almost have rather lost the game. Really ugly I know.
We are back on course now. He is that beaming with joy, happy baby boy I knew. He’s back to engaging me in conversations like what would have happened if “The Hulk” would have really “Hulked” out on “Thanos” in “Avengers Infinity War”. (We both agree Thanos would have gotten his butt kicked, that is if marvel allowed him to realize his full potential.) But I digress.
THERE ARE TWO LESSONS TO BE LEARNED HERE:
1. CHECK YOURSELF: If you have a kid with any kind of extra need I implore you, do not forget about the one who is self-sufficient, especially in a time like this. They need to be pulled in tight. They need your attention and patience. Don’t keep walking by them or pushing them off. They won’t use the words depressed or anxiety but you can be darn sure that if you aren’t giving them what they need they can fall prey to it no matter how happy a kid they are.
2. GET THE STICK OUT: Life should be full of coloring outside the lines. But that is not the message being sent. Everywhere you look it is loud and clear that if you can’t hire a designer to do the coloring for you, if you don’t use the same colors as everybody else, or if they are last season crayons you are out of the club. Mothers should be enjoying their kids and our kids should be enjoying us. But the need to be seen a certain way can keep us chasing our tails. Draw way outside the lines why don’t you?!! And maybe it’s time to abolish a few rules too. The less uptight I am the happier my baby is, and my two neuro diverse children are more at ease. A lot to think about there. My son has needs that are just as great as my kids on the Spectrum. There has been a miscommunication to parents that if one of our children are struggling to keep up, that they need more care from us than our children who are thriving. Dangerous thinking. They don’t need more care they need a different type of care. This clarification can make all the difference in a home where your parenting skills are being put to the test. No matter what level each of your children are at, each one deserves individualized care. They are not a herd of sheep. Don’t leave any child behind to go after one.