Friday, July 27, 2012

Beating the Loneliness of Special Needs

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This post was written as a contribution to the Living Life Special Blog Carnival. The participating bloggers are sharing their experiences in parenting or teaching children with special needs.  Also included are posts on how to educate others about special needs.

My family has grown so much since the birth of our daughter; discovering happiness and joy and seeing little miracles which our eyes had not been open to before.  The dawn of each new day holds great pleasure and gratitude that life before her had been missing.  So much is taken for granted, and the old adage "You don't know what you got til it's gone" holds such true meaning.
Being chosen by our Maker to be a 'Special Mom' is one of the greatest gifts I've ever been bestowed. 

But, being that Mom is not all gumdrops and roses as you can imagine... 
Having a daughter with multiple special needs has opened my eyes to many issues over the years; as mentioned some are simply wondrous but many are not quite so pleasant.  Life with a teenage daughter with multiple complex medical issues and special needs often seems to be a very lonely place- for both her and I.    Her sorrows and esteem issues haunt me.  I'm sure many of you can empathize that when your child {SN or not} is hurting and feeling blue, your heart breaks for them. 

Most children, special needs or not, experience the unpleasantness of being left out and lonely at some point in their lifetime.  Both of my children have encountered rejection to some degree as they are growing up;  exclusion from a birthday party while all the 'other' kids are invited or a close friend suddenly stops knocking up for a friendly game of catch.  I've watched with anticipation as Boom tries very hard to include herself in activities with neighborhood children only to have my heart sink like an anchor as those children mindlessly turn their backs to her and 'move on' to another location to continue their play... without Boom.  We were recently invited to celebrate the Sweet 16 of a girl Boom has attended school with over the past 9 years.  This girl is above average in intelligence, very sweet, and very {for lack of a better word} normal with lots of normal friends.   I accompanied Boom to the party and witnessed again first hand the loneliness of exclusion and rejection my beautiful girl endures when surrounded by a group of teens- many of which do not give her the time of day.  I tell you this not for pity!  Oh, no... no pity please!

What should we do when our Child feels Left Out and Lonely?

* Listen to your child with Acceptance and Compassion!  This mom feels it's very important to not down play how Boom is feeling.  After all, they are her feelings and there is not a right or a wrong way to feel... letting your child know that it is OK to be sad or even angry builds trust between parent and child.  Listen to what they have to say but do not disregard their words by saying things like, "That's silly to feel that way" or "Oh, You'll get over it".

* Build Them Up- Buttercup!  Use this time to work on building that self esteem even more.  Discuss all of the wonderful qualities your child possesses.  We try to take the emphasis off of our daughter's differences and ask her to name all of the special things about her that we love so much... which usually ends up in big giggle fests here leaving all of us feeling so much better. 

* Encourage Repeat Attempts to Engage in Social Activities.  So little Bobby did not knock up and invite you to play ball today...well, what about Timmy?  Let's give him a call.  That little girl who lives down the block is sitting alone on her front step right now, let's take a walk and meet her... perhaps a one on one meeting will foster a play date when the social pressures of group play are not around.

* Problem Solve the Rejection or Loneliness without Creating a Victim.  This goes hand in hand with the other suggestions above... talk with your child about why he/she feels she was rejected or left out.  If your child feels it is because of the way they look or the clothes they wear {Boom often feels it's because of her looks} discuss whether your child really wants to be friends with people who value outward appearances above who they really are inside.  We often discuss the importance of having a few great friends who love us unconditionally rather than a whole lot of people who are around when the situation suits them.  It's important to not allow your child take on the victim role... build up that esteem so that they know how incredibly wonderful they are!

* Spend Extra Time with Your child!  This mommy knows that my special girl need just needs to be reassured with my companionship a bit more than her average need sibling.  It's a rare occurance that she is not right by my side most waking hours of the day and when I am in the next room without her she will call out numerous times just to make sure I am there.  When most of us become mommies we know that our lives are no longer just ours... the addition of a child with special needs into the family simply intensifies that fact.

In our case, it does not take much to beat those lonelies right out of the picture!
It is my hope that with a few of the above tips and some genuine love and care... all children with or without special needs can beat them too!

Be sure to check out the other amazing bloggers who are contributing to the Living Life Special Blog Carnival.

Living Life Special: Teaching Children Compassion - Andie of Crayon Freckles recounts an encounter between her two children and a child with special needs. Various activities are provided to help children develop compassion for others.

All Things Eyeron - Sylvia from Homeschooling Through Trials, Triumphs, and Tragedies shares a brief account of some experiences in the life of a younger sibling born into the family of a child with special needs.

From Boredom to Hyper-Focusing - Leann from Montessori Tidbits shares how special needs includes children who are gifted, as they have their own special set of needs that must be addressed on a daily basis.

Beating the Loneliness of Special Needs - Kim from Tiaras & Bowties explores the loneliness that can accompany children, especially those with special needs as they journey into young adulthood. Don't miss these quick tips to help your child beat those feelings of exclusion and rejection while boosting self-esteem

Is There a Child with Special Needs in the Classroom? - Former teacher and insightful author, Susan Case offers guidance on how to prepare students for a child with special needs in the classroom.

One Thing You Should Know - Kim from The Little Stories writes about a mother of a child with autism shares the one that that all of us need to know - the one thing that will show her we understand her child is important and accepted.

We Can Do All Things - Sandy from We Can Do All Things, talks about how having a child with special needs pushes a parent into action. They quickly become not just a parent, but a therapist, medical researcher, teacher, advocate, and expert in their child's diagnosis. They do things they never knew they could do, and be things they never knew they could do.

Fine Motor Leads to Fine Art - Debbie Clement is a children's musician/song-writer, illustrator, author, and public speaker. The also spent 10 years as a Resource teacher for young children with special needs. Her article for the carnival examines Fine Motor Development and shares supportive observations for children with special needs on that



Margo said...

What a wonderful, helpful and touching post.

Sylvia Phillips said...

Hi there! You have a lovely blog and a lovely daughter! It must be so hard when she is left out. I am kind of thankful that Betty Boop is oblivious to the behaviors of other people toward her. But I'm not and I sure do feel devastated when I know she is purposely avoided or made fun of. Thank God He gave your daughter you for a mom, because you are a great mom and the best one for Boom!

Leslie Marquez said...

Thank you for sharing this. I don't have any special needs children, OK, that's not true, we are testing my son for autism and aspergers but nothing has been determined yet. anyway, this speaks volumes to me. I have four kids ages 6,5,3,and 1. It is hard to have one on one time with them, but in instances like this, you have to stop and talk with them. I am definitely going to keep this post in mind when I talk to them about being rejected. Thanks you, thank you!

Rebekah said...

Such great advice for parents of kid who get left out. Thank you for contributing to the blog hop. I am getting so much out of all the articles. What a great resource.

Russ Ewell said...

What you are doing will inspire many. I will make certain to spread the article around. You and your daughter make quite the dynamic duo.

Loneliness among special needs kids, including my own, is an important obstacle we must overcome. It is one of the reasons I believe in Inclusion, and hope the spirit of inclusion spreads everywhere.

If typical kids can learn how to embrace include special needs kids as peers, the world will become much less lonely for everyone.

You are great mom...great kid...great story!!

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