5 Amazing Things You Can Do at Home Compilation
5 Things You Can Do To Help A Single (Or Any) Parent Of A Special-Needs Child
April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day, and as the parent of a child with Autism, I can tell you how fiercely proud I am of my kid and all that he's grown to be. But I can also tell you that it's not always easy being the Mom of a kid with his kind of issues. It's especially not easy when you factor in that I'm a single parent with primary custody of him and his sister.
So for any of you who are looking to make a contribution to the special needs community, I'd like to remind you that there's plenty you can do that doesn't involve money. Many of the best things you can do involve supporting that kid's family - and here are just a few ways you can make it easier on a special needs parent:
- Give them a few hours off -Whether it's offering to babysit so they can have a night out, or taking the kids out to the park so they can have a few quiet hours free at home, respite is so, so very wonderful when we get it. Having a kid with special needs means you don't get a lot of downtime to recharge, so even a few hours is a Godsend. Ask that parent which they'd prefer - time away on their own, or time free in their house to get something important done without interruption or take a bubble bath or read a book on the couch. Then find a way to make it happen for them, if you can.
- Share the news they can really use -My friends are wonderful, and they're always looking out for articles and news items that pertain to autism. They post them on my Facebook wall, they email them, they gather up fliers at other events and pass them along to me, and I appreciate it all so much. But the truth is, some of it is just of no use to me. I don't want to see my Facebook wall devolve into a flamewar over vaccine therapies or discipline strategies. And while it's somewhat interesting that someone may have found this week's "thing that causes autism", when all is said and done, it doesn't change my reality one bit. My kid will still have autism, even if some scientist discovers that being around peat moss when you're a nearsighted, older mother might give your kid autism. There's so much of that stuff out there, and it gets old fast. But if you have a flier from your kid's soccer game that says they're starting a special-needs soccer club, then please, pass it along! If you read a great article about music therapy and autism, we want to see it! If you know of a speaker coming to the area who has information we can use - tell us about it. Bonus points if you can friend us up with another special needs parent via Facebook or in person!
- Come over, bring a bottle of wine or (make them a cup of coffee), and just listen -Special needs parents need to vent. Unfortunately, we hate to do that out in public. Yes, our kids can be challenging, but if we blew off steam everytime things got rough, we'd be whining all the time, and we don't want to skew your mostly-good opinion of the kid we love and adore so fiercely. So sit there, listen, don't judge, and remind us that you've got our back. That alone is worth its weight in gold.
- If you have the time, do something for them, but don't ask what -The reason why is they most likely won't tell you. And it doesn't have to be anything huge, either. I went out to check my mail yesterday and discovered that someone - a neighbor, and I have no idea who - fixed my broken mailbox. I've been holding the door on it together with twist ties from loaves of bread and someone came out and put in some industrial zip ties in a color that matched the box and now the door works perfectly. It was such a little thing, but it was so appreciated. Pick something that you know that parent needs done and just do it. Bring dinner, mow the lawn, fix a kid's bike. Little things mean alot.
- Support their cause -Join a walk, make a donation, buy a tee shirt, but more than that, learn about their kid's particular need and educate people wherever you can. One of the best moments of my blogging career was when a reader told me about a trip she took to a busy shopping mall. She was standing in the food court, watching a mother trying to order food when her kid went into a massive meltdown. The reader had been watching the boy for a while as they stood in line, and from some of his behaviors (and being acquainted with my blog), she recognized that he might be a child with autism. She walked over, crouched down in front of the kids so she was at eye-level, and started to sing to him. Sure enough, it worked. The boy started to focus on her and the song, tuning out the noise and smells and neon lights of the food court. He calmed down, and Mom was able to finish ordering and collecting their food. She thanked my reader over and over. Her son was having a bad autism day, she explained apologetically. My reader told her that she knew someone who had a child with autism, and it was no big deal. And she did it within earshot of half a food court, who'd just witnessed not only her compassion, but her mad meltdown-avoidance skills.
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