We are all on a journey.
A journey with our child who has a disability.
I know when we first received Charlie’s autism diagnosis we scrambled to learn what this autism thing really was. We searched ways of how to help him. We searched how others were coping.
I think books are great, articles are awesome, and conferences are amazing but I think the greatest thing I have found is finding others that have come before you to talk with and ask questions. Questions like, “what did you do when…” or “did your child do this, what did you do?” or maybe even “did you feel __ when this happened?” Finding another parent, grandparent, sibling can be amazing to reach out to. They get it. They understand how to listen.
So many times I have gotten valuable information behaviorally, socially, medically, academically, and even emotionally from other moms and dads. When someone has been there and walked through it, they can really testify to how they felt and to encourage you that it will be ok.
I remember when I was potty training Charlie… one of the hardest things I have done in my life. He was 5 ½ and still had no concept of the connection. Sitting in urine and feces was no big deal to him, he wouldn’t even walk funny. I decided I would do an interval schedule with him using a timer. We went to the bathroom every 45 minutes, no matter what. He would tantrum (scream, kick, hit himself, spit) each and every time just to get him to sit on the toilet. He was petrified of the toilet flushing. We tried every reinforcer, but nothing seemed to be valuable at this point. He had accidents every hour. Resolve cleaner was my best friend. This went on for 2 weeks straight. We hardly went anywhere, but I remained strong. Well, until that Friday night. We hosted a Bible Study at our house and I was still in full throttle with the timer etc. It was about 8:30pm and I had done this during the day (every 45m taking him to the toilet). I had a meltdown myself and just started to cry with my head in my hands saying, “I can’t do this”. Gina, who also has a child with autism, came over to me and just hugged me and then she said the magic words, “It will be alright and you CAN do it!” Even though I was so overwhelmed I knew she had done this with her own son and I knew I could do it too. I got through the night and soon he was getting it.
Find someone who has a child at least a few years older that yours who you can ask questions to, that you can just vent every once in a while. Someone that can pray with you. Often times I got such great information from others about different conferences or sensory ideas. A lot of times it was nice to talk to someone else that got it, when feeling overwhelmed and they just understood. I never really wanted a pity party, but I just wanted someone to listen and encourage me to get through that tough moment. That is what Gina did.
These days there is so much more awareness of autism then there was when Charlie was diagnosed. There is now Facebook and other social media sites that help parents to do this even virtually. Also I find it greater when I reach out to others and seeing who needs me to listen to them, to be there for them, to serve them.
Reach out and find someone you can ask those questions to, you can get encouragement from, and you can watch and see what they have done. Not-Alone is a great site for this especially with our prayer wall. Let us encourage and pray for you today. The ultimate way to encourage you and to ask questions is through God’s Word: The Bible. Jesus Christ is always there to listen to all your needs. As I tell Charlie all the time, He is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen to our cries and to hear our joy!
I Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.