You need to be on the lookout for these people, because when they appear you want to hold on to them like lifelines.
1.) The Family Member Who Shows Up
It can be intimidating for your family to have a SN child in their midst. It doesn’t matter how many kids someone has raised, special needs makes everything different. There will be one person in your family, more if you’re lucky, who will answer the call when you phone saying your kid is sick, and you need diapers or chicken soup or Tylenol. Embrace this person. If you have a child who can’t speak, or is intellectually challenged or has a myriad of health issues on top of just being plain sick, you need someone to be the cavalry. Maybe it’s your mom, maybe it’s your brother, maybe it’s your aunt or whoever. This person knows your hands are already full, and drops what they are doing to help you. It may even be different family members at different stages, but you need them.
2.) The Therapist Who Gets You
This is so important. You’re shuffling off to therapies and doctors’ appointments and living your life by a calendar of seeming emergency. There will be someone who gets you. The professional who actually listens, the person who takes your opinion into account when you feel like you’re run through the gamut of healthcare ambivalence.
Talk to them. Tell them everything. Ask about their experience, and get to know them on a deeper level. This person will guide you and direct you in invaluable ways. They are your greatest ally in your fight for your child’s rights and in forging a path forward. And they know special needs. They will understand when you’re at your wit’s end and can’t do anymore for a little while. This person is compassionate and totally honest with you. The two can exist together. Appreciate them, and trust them.
3.) The Wine Buddy
Or coffee buddy. Whatever your relief is. You will need a break, and although you may think your spouse is your sounding board, your partner is in the thick of it, too. Make sure they also find this buddy. You need someone (and so do they) who isn’t in the day-to-day care of your SN kiddo to take you away from all of it. To talk about their stuff. Rehash hollywood gossip. Pick you up and drive you home after 2 (or 3) glasses of wine. Buy you a fancy coffee, with whipped cream. You have to let it go sometimes and forget. Be a human in the world outside of your own confined reality. This person will listen, love and let you let it go for a minute.
Pay attention. People will appear in your life who fulfill these rolls and want to relieve you of your circumstance for an instance. Your job is to invite them in. It’s hard, putting one foot in front of the other every day with your unique feeling of uncertainty. It’s stressful not being able to lie down at night knowing generally, what the next day holds. Everyone needs a net to catch them when they falter. These people will hold your space. Look for them, open to them and love them. They love you. You probably reject help because it’s just too hard to ask. The help is there, if you ask for it.