Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why I'm Hard On My Special Needs Child

There was a time when I had to constantly say, "Use your words," to my Apraxic child. He would sigh in annoyance, take his time, and then speak. I honestly can't remember the last time I had to tell him to use his words. He does it on his own now. No more signs, no more gestures, no more tantrums. He slowly says what he wants to say. I stop what I'm doing, focus on him, and listen. 

When he tries to eat with his hands because using silverware is difficult we still tell him to use his fork. When he walks around with his shoes untied, we make him stop and try to tie them (even if it takes 5 minutes and multiple tries). When he struggles to brush his teeth, read, write, even hold a pencil, we keep pushing him to try. There have been numerous days when I've made him go back and brush his teeth again. He sighs or rolls his eyes, but he doesn't argue. He knows that trying is important. Practice makes perfect, right? 

I've had people tell me to just let him eat with his hands. "He's a child, what will it hurt?" I've had people ask me why I don't buy him Velcro shoes since tying is difficult for him. The zipper and button on his pants are difficult? Well, just let him wear track pants every day and then he won't have to worry about it. 

Sure, all of these things would make it easier for him and no parent wants to watch their child struggle, however it would hurt him more than help him. There will come a day when I have to send my special needs child into the world. It's not a kind world filled with rainbows and butterflies. Birds won't follow him around singing and he won't suddenly emerge in cartoon form into a dream land with no worries. The world is cruel and it will not bend over backwards to make my child's life easier. By doing that for him now I would be doing him a disservice. 

Am I hard on my special needs child? You bet I am. My job is to prepare him to go out into the world one day and to be ready. I do not want a 30-year-old son walking around with his shoe laces flapping about his feet, eating with his hands, shrugging his shoulders and saying, "I have Apraxia," just because things are hard. My dream for this kid is to see him succeed. To see him EASILY do all the things his little brother can do and hear him smile and say, "I have Apraxia, but I still did it!" He has his own voice and it is my job to help him find it and one day, when the time comes, go out and use that voice! 

So far, it seems to be working. He works twice as hard to do half as much and he's okay with that. He's comfortable with who he is and he has accepted the challenges in his life. He is happy, ornery, and has such a positive outlook on life! So, the next time you see me pushing him or encouraging him to try just one more time and you say, "You're too hard on him," I will smile and say, "Thank you."  I AM hard on him, but he'll be all the better for it one day! 

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