What would you do if someone told you your child is different? How would you react? Would you be shocked? Overwhelmed?
When COVID-19 was becoming a problem in America, I took Ellie to see an occupational therapist. We had some concerns about her behavior, and the pediatrician suggested we get her checked out. I stressed. I worried. I overthought every possible outcome. And after coming up with the worst possible scenario, I thought about all the ways I could have caused it.
Well, I took her into her initial appointment; this exam was purely to assess her physical abilities. She had so much fun with the therapist. It was really like a play date for her. At the end of the session, the therapist said, while it takes her a lot longer than most kids to complete tasks, she is physically able to do so. I was relieved! But that relief was soon after that replaced by dread.
There were things about Ellie that were just a little different. I needed help. I, as a mother, was feeling inadequate and incapable.
After more tests, questionnaires, and observations, Ellie was diagnosed with a disorder of psychological development.
Hearing that my child wasn't 'normal' definitely threw me into an anxious place for a little bit. I did a lot of self-blame.
Then I thought about how crazy I sounded. I was disappointed there was nothing wrong with Ellie, and then I was disappointed something was wrong with her. Then I found myself thinking about other kids, kids that actually had problems, and it made me wonder what was wrong with me.
I focused on what it meant for me and what others would think. I focused on the negative and categorized 'different' as more difficult. But then, I slowly began to change my mindset and started thinking about everything my child could bring to the world and stopped concerning myself with if she could fit into the mold of a 'normal' kid.
I talked with our therapist, and she told me about some things we could begin doing to help Ellie. (Let me tell you, at the beginning of a pandemic is not when you want to find out your child is recommended therapy).
We found out Ellie has dyspraxia, which affects how she moves throughout space and the force in which she does things. It gives her superhero strength (wink). While superhero strength sounds incredible, it can be very frustrating for a toddler trying to color. She broke every crayon she picked up, so she stopped using crayons and started using thick colored pencils.
She is a sensory seeker. She has a lot of energy, and it takes a roller coaster ride to give her a dose of adrenaline that a short run would give me. So we began a sensory diet, and blanket swinging became a daily thing.
The one area she is not seeking is auditory. This was noticeable in many areas of life, but caused us the most grief with potty training. Public bathrooms became our number one place for breakdowns. So we invested in a pair of headphones to block out noise when it becomes overwhelming.
I started off quarantine, finding out my kid was different… So, I spent quarantine finding ways to give her what she needs. Some days were hard, and we failed horribly. But some days were fantastic and filled with laughter. Most days left me exhausted. But I am learning the status quo isn't always right, and the Jones's aren't worth keeping up with. I will do what's best for my kid because my job is to show her, her own potential.
Every child has special needs, because every child is an individual. What things do you do to accommodate your child's special needs? Comment and let me know!
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