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  • Writer's pictureA.S. Morris

Special needs, neuro typical, and parenting.

Parenting a special needs child,

heck any child, is not one size fits all. Each child comes with their own wonderfully unique mix. Sometimes that mix has clearly gone sour; week old milk that has been left in the car in August kind of sour. If you know, you know. Parenting in general is a toss up.

Parenting is hard. Its downright brutal some days. Children do things and say things that make you want to double check their birth certificate. Did they hit their head when I wasn't looking; my personal belief is that somedays aliens switch out their bodies, that can be the only logical explanation. I refuse to believe my hereditary material can cause that level of shenanigans' and chaos. Not possible. Aliens.

When my children are not actively possessed by aliens they are phenomenal humans. They are good and kind, funny and spirited, loving... so incredibly loving. We (my husband and I) make a conscious effort to parent our children the same. We have never let Corbin's disability define him. We set rules, boundaries, and expectations. Some days those marks are met, some days...aliens. We countdown until bedtime and try again the next day...and the next...and some (days) turn into weeks...eventually the clock resets. When we think we have figured out one of the many triggers we add a new one to the list. Ever evolving, ever changing.

Corbin has a fulltime job of therapy sessions each week; we take Friday's off. In four days he has five different therapy appointments. He has a love/ hate relationship with this set up. We are taking advantage of the fact that we are fully homeschooling this year and able to have his sessions during the early part of the day versus afterschool. The county school system has deemed his OT needs to be medical in nature versus educational. We disagree on this; another reason for homeschooling. This Friday Corbin will spend the morning going through a barrage of cognitive testing. His big blue eyes have already started asking for a new Lego set if he does well. Mom is a sucker for his big blue eyes.

He has been a trooper the past couple of months with new doctors, big tests, blood draws, and lots of questions. Corbin hates when doctors, therapists, care providers ask questions about him and his needs in front of him. Once he asked if it was a HIPAA violation to a doctor....I laughed, the snark is strong even with autism. I was so proud. I get it though. He is a bright child; however this complex developmental disorder can knock this sweet little boy with the big blue eyes off his axis at any given moment. He doesn't understand why. He is trying so hard to learn how to navigate this disease (we are too) and he is only eight. He will learn more in his lifetime than me and my advanced degrees ever will. He will teach and impact people in ways he will never know or comprehend.

This doesn't mean that there aren't days when Corbin's actions and our parenting are not at their finest. One can only take so many outburst, fights, sleepless shenanigan's. My husband and I both work fulltime jobs in addition to parenting. This adds another level. Corbin wishes we worked bankers hours. My husband and I don't have job's conducive to such a schedule. My husband and I have both been in our respective fields since college. While I am not a surgeon; my daughter did ask a female friend of mine from work who is indeed a phenomenal robotic surgeon if she (Virginia) could be a robotic surgeon when she grows up. Virginia's follow up question; if tutu's were allowed in the OR? My friend promised to find out. Watch out for this one world. The career family life is a juggle. A crazy messy juggle. A heck of a guilty juggle. Today I had zoom calls and meetings from 3-6:30PM. I snuck out of work when my 3PM ended to start my 4PM meeting in the car to be home in time for my 5PM. Great mom multitasking planning; I got this. I indeed did not have it. I made the mistake of getting out of my car and my son found me on a zoom call and mom was not on mute...I'll let you readers use your imagination.

There are so many variables to screw up. We have a large white board calendar in the kitchen where I write every appointment that may impact Corbin or his world down every month. From therapy, cleaning lady, doctors appointments, nanny/mom/dad work schedules, sister's school schedule and vacation. Anything that could upset the apple cart is written out for him. No surprises, no unknowns. We give him this "control" over his routine. Some days can get busy with appointments, he has made it known that he will not have more than two appointments in one day. We respect that. Sometimes its not possible and bribery is used. Gold star parenting. We have color coded his meds and drill into his head what colors, quantities, shapes, and size you take at what time of day. I partly do this for my own checks and balance. Raise your hand if you've ever given the AM meds at bedtime..... yea, special ain't it. He lived, we lived. Apparently I'm not the worlds worst mother. Well until I do the next thing. I am sure my children will be kind enough to point out some missive of mine in the next few days. The beauty of motherhood, someone is always there to keep you grounded.

Could our rhythm use a little finesse, absolutely. Are there simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done, absolutely. Today my husband mentioned his "to do" list for work and not being able to cross anything off. I have a giant white board in my office where I write down all the things. It currently resembles an organized skittles bag of colors. I don't know of anyone who actually clears a "to do" list. I would like to keep this beautiful imagery in my head. If you actually, routinely, accomplish your "to do" list I am impressed, but you can keep that joy to your self. I'll take blissful ignorance.

Today is only Tuesday, I think. I missed a meeting, we aren't making dents in any lists, we attempted to watch a movie tonight that did not go over well (Flight of the Navigator), we still have three days and too many appointments to go until Friday afternoon, and I am sure some other lovely something will happen. Its a circus in the house. I'm not sure how different the circus would be even if Corbin wasn't "special needs." We have two children born 379 days apart. They keep us busy. The tutu wearing surgeon / mayor to be and one who wants to be anything from an engineer to a mechanic.

We are not experts on parenting. We have chosen to not let Corbin's needs define who we are as a family. They impact how we live and function as a unit. They impact our values and our practices. We foster Corbin's abilities and provide him with the opportunities needed to be the best version of himself. We raise Virginia in the same manner. She is only 7 and jumps from activity to sport trying to find her niche, works for us. We recognize these two very special and different loves for who they are and what they may become. At the end of the day they our are children, whether they like it or not. We love them unconditionally, embarrass them, hopefully impart some wisdom along the way, and are allowing them to grow into their own person.

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