Autism: Tis the Season for Troubling Beahvior

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Autism: Tis the Season for Troubling Behavior
The odds were totally against my son yesterday morning when he had that awful, no good, very bad day. Between us rearranging bedrooms, his stuffy nose, waking up at 3:30 in the morning, and then to top it off the house is in disarray due to decorating for Christmas. It was a tough day that ended with all feeling exhausted and not very festive for the time of year.
This time of the year is often rough on children with Autism. We suddenly change the look of our homes and rearrange things and then we get extra busy with our schedules. And to top it off, we eat different things that we do not normally eat. There are a lot of changes in a short amount of time, and just as suddenly as it came, it goes away.

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Here are some tips to help your child during this time of the year:
1) Give your child warning before putting up decorations; the best is a few days before. If your child struggles with verbal communication, consider taking a picture after you decorate so next year you can show your child the picture to help him/her prepare.
2) Let your child help with the decorations. You may even consider putting a few decorations in his/her bedroom. (Be careful to not overdue it).

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3) It might be helpful to decorate in stages to help your child slowly adjust. Maybe one day you decorate the tree, then another day lights, etc.

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4) Keep your house as neat and tidy as you can while putting up the decorations. Extra boxes and messes around the house can add frustration to your child.
5) When you get ready to take down the decorations, give your child plenty of warning, and consider taking them down slowly.

Above all, be sensitive to your child’s needs. Just remember there is a lot to process this time of the year for your child, just like there is for you. Communicate with your child about his/her feelings and emotions during this time of the year. If your child appears distracted or upset about the decorations, consider finding a quiet spot for your child that is left alone from decorations to give your child a spot to go to that is “safe” from disruption.

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Enjoy your holidays and treasure this special time with your family!

Jen Edwards, MA LMHCA
jen@beautifulautism.com
http://www.beautifulautism.com

Using Autism to be a Blessing to Others

Using Autism to be a Blessing to Others

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Yesterday I read an article that was about accepting people with a disability and it got me thinking about things. Personally I have always been able to accept my son’s diagnosis of Autism, though at times I struggle with the grief of it. But I have always wanted to use my son’s disability to bless others. Is this why my son has Autism, so that through it we can bless others and show how good can come from it? I believe so, and I believe that he is learning how to bless others as well through his Autism. Maybe it does not make sense to you. Maybe it gets you thinking about things. But for us, this is our calling and gift.

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I am not going to sit here and make you believe that I always hold this optimist point of view. Even yesterday morning as my son was having a rough morning and refused to go to school I was near tears as I literally dragged him from the car into the school. Afterwards as I left the building with him screaming and calling for me, I could feel my body tense and my blood pressure elevated. My arms hurt from holding his 85 pound body and my heart ached to just sit and hold him while watching some funny movie. I wanted to scream and curse at the Autism behaviors; it needed to go away and I wanted a “normal” child.
But really that was not fair of me. My son is who he is and I love him for it. He has the diagnosis of Autism and I cannot let that define him. We have good days and bad days; it is what it is.

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How can I be a blessing to others? I remember one evening we had some friends over to dinner. They are good friends of ours now, but they asked us a lot of questions about our son and about Autism in general. We were, and are always, very open to answering any questions. After they left I remember feeling numb with “Autism talk”. But later on they expressed how informative the evening had been for them and how they felt more informed about Autism. I had blessed them by telling them truths about Autism and about our son.
How else can we bless people about Autism? Teach others about Autism, be comfortable around others, allow others to spend time with individuals with Autism, and speak positively about Autism. But I challenge you to be real with others about Autism, share the challenges along with the good things. And yes, there are good things!

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I fully believe everything works for a reason and purpose. I may not have known what I was doing when my son was initially diagnosed with Autism, but I am becoming more equipped each and every day. So for now we deal with my son’s issues as they come and in the meantime we use it all as a blessing to others in any way we can.
Jen Edwards, MA LMHCA
jen@beautifulautism.com
http://www.beautifulautism.com

Autism and Sudden Changes

Autism and Sudden Changes
We had a great summer; everything was ready for school to begin next week. We had worked the last few weeks on getting our son ready to begin his first grade year and get ready for that transition. Then we found out one morning, a week before school began, that we had to move ASAP…
And panic mode begins! Not only am I beginning a new school year in my classroom too (as well as maintaining my clients), but now we have to find a new house in a lousy rental market. Our biggest concern was what to do for school and our son and how was he going to process all these changes.

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Preparing for the Changes
To properly prepare your child with Autism for changes, you need to understand how he/she processes best. For example, for my son, we cannot generally tell him things too far in advance, otherwise he stresses about it for weeks and his anxiety is high. But we do need to give him notice of changes in his routine and explain to him how things will look.
With some kids on the Spectrum, they need a social story to help them understand these changes. Other tools are also available, such as schedules, calendars, etc. I have also known individuals with Autism that do not need much preparation in changes.
The main thing is to know and read your child. Think ahead of the situation and have a plan of how to attack the situation at hand. When we found out we were moving, we sat down and explained to our son what was happening. We kept him informed of decisions and let him ask us questions until it literally drove us nuts! But that was what he needed to relieve his anxiety. And we continually reminded him that we were doing our best to keep him at his school and meet his needs.
Handling our own Stress

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With the insane stress we had to deal with, adding our son’s anxiety on top of it was not easy. However, we knew we needed to take hold of it to relieve him of it. That is what we do as parents; we take on our child’s greatest emotional need to help them in their greatest trials, even it if means adding intense stress to us.

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This is where we lean on each other. We remind each other that we are a team and raising our son together. Our prayers were heard, our friends came to our need, and our family supported us. We pushed through one day at a time and even when we wanted to give up, we stayed strong. It was not easy, and there were times when I admit I broke down in tears and felt helpless. But it was during those times that I realized how strong we really are, and surprisingly enough, it was then that my son would surprise me by making me smile!
Above all, we did our best to keep our son calm. Generally if he was able to stay calm, this helped us to be less stressed too. Eventually it all worked out, and though I never want to go through that again, I know I can certainly handle it.

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Final Thoughts
Know your child- know how he/she handles change and be prepared for it. Every kid, whether they have Autism or not, needs to be prepared for change. Just be aware that a child with Autism is likely to be more effected with changes in life, especially major life changes, such as moving.
Be sure to let teachers, therapists, and other individuals that work continually with your child about any changes. Communication is important and helps keep things running smoothly.
Share any thoughts or comments!
Jen Edwards
jen@voyagescounseling.com
720-258-6392

Autism: As a Mama, am I Worried or Concerned?

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Autism: As a Mama, am I Worried or Concerned?
I read a thought this morning that gripped me: “Worry is not the same as legitimate concern. Concern can be productive if it is solution-focused and drives us to take corrective action on behalf of ourselves or someone else. But worry is concern that’s gotten out of control.” (Florence MacKenzie).
Well shoot, I thought afterwards, am I worrying about my son and his Autism, or am I concerned? I would like to think it is genuine concern, but let’s be honest, it borders, and even crosses over into worry quite often.
Controlling my Worry
Every parent has concern for their children; it is a part of parenthood and begins the day you find out you are pregnant. After they are born, you worry about the right daycare, food, diapers, car seats, education, etc. Your life becomes a worry-fest! Then you add Autism on top of that and it is like you cannot breathe at times because you feel suffocated with worry and fear for everything. Can he function in school on his own? Can he get off the bus at school and find his class? Will he be able to be independent as an adult? Did I somehow cause this during pregnancy?

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Here is the answer my friends: we do not know and thus we cannot control these things. Therefore, we need not worry. I know this is easier said than done, and I know I am preaching to myself at this very moment. I worry constantly about my son at school. There have been times when his teachers will say to me, Jen, we have it under control, do not worry about it. If we need you, we will call you. Talk about putting me in my place.
So where do I put my worry aside and simply have concern? Maybe I do not know. Maybe I do not have that simple answer. Perhaps there is not a simple answer beyond give it up in prayer. Seek others for help and understanding. Yes, I realize many other people do not know and understand what you are going through, but sometimes talking it out can simply help.
But let us go back to the quote above. Concern is solution-focused. Worry is concern that has spiraled its way out of control. Think of a concern you have. Do you feel in control of the problem? Meaning, is it keeping you awake at night? Is it causing you anxiety and high stress? If so, it does not sound like you have control over it and it is now a worry rather than a concern.

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My Concern about Autism
I am very concerned about my son’s Autism. It hinders him in many areas of his life. It hinders our family in many areas as well. We cannot go out to dinner on a whim when we want to. It must be preplanned and we must go out early before the crowds come out. Our lives revolve around Autism. So my husband and I are always thinking about his future and how it will look. We are always concerned when he leaves for school whether he will hurt another student or run away from his teachers. We are also concerned for our stress level in dealing with all of this. My doctor once made a comment that my blood pressure seemed to rise quite a bit after 2008. I simply laughed and said, well, that happens when you have a child; I bet it went up again when he started showing signs of Autism and it got bad (sure enough that was when my medication dosage had increased… coincidence?).

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But I have learned to not let it get into the worry mode. I admit, at times it does. I have a great support in place to help keep me in check when I get to this point. They remind me I do not have control over this and need to simply step back and calm down and give it to God. It is hard not having control over these issues. It is hard for me to let it go and stay calm. And it is a struggle for me to not cross over that line into worry all the time. It takes practice and patience. It takes understanding and support.
But I have also found that my worry transfers onto my son. He picks up on it and it makes him more irritable and difficult. Whereas my concern I can keep hidden more and it does not cause the immediate stress. When I worry I lose focus of the big picture- my son! All I focus on is the problem itself, the Autism. It consumes me and stresses me. But my concern allows me to stay focused and come up with solutions. It helps me to understand the situation at hand and whether or not this is something worth battling now or waiting until later.
There is a Difference
Yes my friends, there is a difference between concern and worry. Are you concerned for your child, or are you worried? Are you stressed and is it controlling your life? Or are you being solution-focused and have a game plan? Is your heart focused on the right things or focused on only the worries in life?
Seek help in all areas. Find friends, family, professionals, therapists, etc. to help you. Pray and seek for understanding. Work on putting these worries aside and asking for guidance to get you through the struggles.
You will find yourself growing in strength and maturity with this. Keep staying strong and remember God gives us the tools and resources we need to handle any situation He gives us; we need to use what we have been given. If He has given you this situation, He will qualify you for it, so allow Him to. Grow in your understanding and become the best parent you can be.

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Jen Edwards
jen@voyagescounseling.com
720-258-6392

Positive Aspects of Autism

Positive Aspects of Autism

                I am always curious to see people’s reaction when I mention my son has Autism.  I get a mixture of remorse and uncertainty.  When I drop off my son somewhere new, such as a church we are visiting, I see the fear in the faces of the workers, the uncertainty of what they are to do and how they are to handle the situation.  I walk away feeling a bit uneasy but also giggling inside thinking about how people are so afraid of Autism.

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                Why does Autism have such a negative reaction?  People do not understand Autism.  It is uncertain to them and uncomfortable.  They never know what to expect with it, seeing as there is the spectrum of degrees.  I can understand their fear and hesitance; I was them at one point!  However, Autism can be a beautiful thing!

Beautiful Autism

                My blog is titled Beautiful Autism.  I love this name- it inspires hope and gratitude for those coping with Autism.  Certainly Autism has its many challenges, as does any individual with or without a disability, but obviously these challenges are more severe.  However there are many wonderful blessings that come with Autism… you just have to look for them!

                Many individuals with Autism have brilliant minds.  Ask me how their minds work and I simply reply I have no idea.  Their brains think so quickly it blows me away, but they retain so much information and grasp concepts quickly.  These individuals make wonderful engineers and mathematicians.  It has been said that Albert Einstein had Autism, and look at the amazing scientific and mathematical things he taught us!

                Another area some of these individuals are amazing at is musical ability.  It has to do with the brain and how it processes information.  Some famous past musicians have also been thought to have had Autism.  It is a rare gift to have and one that is beautiful!

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                I love the uniqueness of individuals with Autism.  The personalities and funny quirks make me smile.  At times the repetitious things my son does can be annoying; but last night at his kindergarten performance it was quite funny watching him rock back and forth in sway to the beat of the music.  It is these quirks that make the personalities unique and special.

Teaching us

                I have said it before in a previous post, my son teaches me daily.  I learn so much from individuals with Autism.  It has made me more patient and even instilled more confidence in myself.  I have gained knowledge in how different people process things and learn new knowledge.

                Perhaps the greatest thing I have learned is how to teach and work with each person individually.  What I mean is everyone, whether they are on the spectrum or not, has their own way of learning.  Individuals with Autism have their own way they learn best and it is up to me to figure out how each of my students and clients needs to have their unique needs met.  It can be a challenge, but one that I lovingly embrace daily!

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                It can also go without saying that people with Autism teach us how to love!  I know it can at times be challenging to love and embrace these individuals because they can often struggle to receive it.  But we endeavor to find new ways to show our love towards them.  We continue to love our children unconditionally.  And we find the blessings that they offer us in their own unique ways!

Find the Positives!

                Seek to find the positive!  It is there, even in the worst of times.  Look past the challenges and see the beauty he or she can offer.  When you see it, praise it!

                Keep a list or diary of these positive traits so you can look back on the rough and tough days and remind yourself why you keep going.  Tell your family and friends these things so they can help remind you of them on your low days.  Celebrate any progress!  It is valuable to us parents and can take an awful week and turn it around!

                Stay strong my friends!  The good traits are there even when it seems like all is bad.

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Jen Edwards

Voyages Counseling

jen@voyagescounseling.com

720-258-6392

I am a Parent of a Child with Autism, and I am STRESSED!

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I am a Parent of a Child with Autism, and I am STRESSED!

                Any parent of any kid is stressed.  You wake up early, get them going for school while you get yourself ready for work.  Then you run them around to sports and doctor appointments after school.  Finally you come home and get dinner going while you juggle homework and chores.  You finally collapse into bed after they are asleep and start over again in the morning.

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                Having a kid on the spectrum you never know how your days are going to go.  You keep your phone nearby in anticipation of the school calling you because of a meltdown and you need to go pick up your child.  You get emails from all the different teachers and support staff on a daily basis and you take a deep breath before you open it because likely it is not good news.  It is like you wait for the bomb to drop all the time.

                Then you have all the therapy sessions and doctor appointments.  You do not get to go to sporting events and practices; you go to therapy, where the therapists purposefully put your child into meltdown mode on occasion to help them process how to get through the meltdown.  Lovely.  Nothing gets accomplished after those sessions.

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                And if you get assistance from the government, you fight them constantly to keep services such as health insurance and SSI.  Your case workers do not call you back and you sit in the government offices for hours waiting to talk to someone who has no idea who you are or how to help you.  It is a frustrating process but a necessary one.

The Stress is just TOO MUCH!

                Ever feel like the stress is simply too much?  You just want to go away and hide?  You are not alone my dear friends!

                If you read my previous post, you know the stress has been high for us recently.  We are in the midst of lots of meltdowns and behavior issues with our son and it is stressful.  There are so many people involved in his life that it can get overwhelming to us with who is doing what with him.  It is almost like there are too many people in the picture!  But all are necessary.

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                And of course stress at home causes stress on our son.  He can pick up on our stress.  So when our car breaks down, and the bills pile up, and then the cell phone breaks all in the same week, our stress gets high.  Even though we try our best to hide the stress, he picks up on it.  Because he cannot process stress and then cannot handle it, he in turns acts out with his behavior and it can cause meltdowns.  It is a vicious cycle.

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How can I Handle the Stress?

                Easier said than done.  But here are a few thoughts and ideas.

  • ·         Process anything that you can with your child.  Explain what stress is and explain things that are going on so they understand.  Do not hide things from them, be open and honest.  Just use appropriate words for their age and processing ability.
  • ·         Take time for yourself.  Have dates with your spouse.  Have time alone for you.  You will probably need to plan ahead for this, but it is important to do!
  • ·         Do your best to prepare them for any change that is coming.  For example, if it is threatening to show, I always tell my son the day before.
  • ·         Find that trusting person you can talk to.  It can be a good friend, family member, or counselor.  A spouse is great too, but having someone not emotionally involved is important too!
  • ·         Take your deep breaths during the meltdowns and challenging moments.  Tag-team with your spouse (if possible) and give each other breaks.  Support each other during this time and then discuss afterwards what could have been done differently and/or better.
  • ·         Drink ice-cold water when you feel stressed- it really helps!  Get exercise, take a walk.  Do yoga or something calming.

·         Above all, do something healthy to relieve stress.  Drinking excessive alcohol and using drugs is not the best option to help relieve stress.  In the long run it will make things worse.

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Final Thoughts

                Stress is not easy to process through.  It can stay with you for days and weeks.  It can build up and eventually burst; causing problems that can be serious.  When you need help, get help!!

                Having a kid on the spectrum, or any special need, is a challenge.  I commend you for fighting through it and doing your best!  Take time for yourself, stay calm, and get the help you need.  Any parent needs help raising a child.  Raising a special needs child is going to take extra help.  Getting help does not mean you are not an adequate parent, it means you are helping your child.

                Let me know if you need help with your own emotional needs.  Many of my clients are children with special needs, but often the parents come in on their own and have their own sessions too!

                Keep up the great work!

Jen Edwards

jen@voyagescounseling.com

720-258-6392

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Young Adults with Autism

Young Adults with Autism

                The experience of young adulthood is challenging enough without the aspect of Autism thrown on top of it.  Think about it, so much of young adulthood is the social aspect and the experience of getting a job and living independently.  These are not generally strengths of individuals with Autism.

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                They want so much to fit in and be on their own.  Their logical side can come up with the logistics of it- the budget, the plans, etc.  But it is such a challenge for them.  My heart aches for them, as they have these high ambitions with hesitancy and anxiety.  As parents, how can we help our children through this?

Social Skills in Young Adulthood

                Here is the scenario I often see: we push our kids with Autism to get involved socially in high school.  They are going to therapy and social skills classes.  They have assistants in their classes.  Parents follow up with teachers and staff at the schools constantly.  Parents help them through everything.  Then high school ends.  They are expected to possibly attend college and move forward with being an adult.  But they have had so much assistance throughout their childhood that they really do not have the maturity and knowledge to know figure it out.  We have held their hand through these social situations, and now they must do it on their own.

                Individuals with Autism can be very successful in college academically, but socially they struggle.  Many parents would say this is a curse in disguise, as generally they will not be attending the frat parties and get involved with illegal things.  But they begin to realize they do not fit in and anxiety and depression begins to rear its ugly head.

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                Then they begin applying for jobs.  But socially they tend to not know how to interview well.  They may be qualified for the job, but socially they cannot handle it.  Finding a job that does not require a lot of social skills can be difficult.

                Practice interview skills with your young adult.  Give them tips and ideas.  Help them find a job you know they can be successful at.  Use therapists to help with these skills and ideas as well.

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                Another idea is try to keep them involved in some type of social atmosphere.  For example, church groups or groups such as gaming groups might be a good fit.  Use their hobbies as ideas to find groups for them to connect with.  Basically, find a social group that they will likely stay with and enjoy.  I would also encourage the social skills groups, but those can be very therapy based- find something else also that is more natural and enjoyable.

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                There is also the aspect of romantic relationships, which honestly is a whole other post for another day!

Beginning College

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                In our culture today, we put so much success on going to college.  But honestly, people can be successful without college too, especially if it is a struggle for them.  Now do not get me wrong, I think college is great, but it is not for everyone.  If your child is struggling too much with it, do not push them.  Find alternatives such as online college or simply not going for now and focusing on job skills.

                This is the time in their life when you need to step back more and see what he/she is capable of doing.  It is hard for us as parents because we have done so much for them already, but they need the independence skills before they can go out on their own.

                First, find out what their ambitions are.  Have them write it out and make goals.  Have them also have backup plans if their first ambitions do not work out.  Then encourage them through their goals and support in ways you can without micromanaging.

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Moving out and Becoming Independent

                This is a scary step for any parent- watching their child becoming independent enough to move out on their own and support themselves.  With Autism this can be horrifying!  Can they handle the stress and concepts?  Can they pay bills and balance a checkbook?  Will they be able to socially adjust appropriately?  YIKES!

                Again, encourage your son or daughter and help them without micromanaging the situation.  Have them write out their goals and plans.  Take them through the basic steps and allow them to show you they can handle it.

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                But most of all, allow them to make their mistakes.  HARSH I know.  When the mistakes are made, help them clean it up and move forward.  And yes, this may mean moving back in, but now they understand what they need to do and have in order to gain the independence back again.  This section is honestly another post entirely.  But hopefully these thoughts and ideas can help prepare you for the beginning steps.

What to Plan for

                Start thinking now how this will look for your family and your child.  Start preparing them early while they are in high school for the challenges of life after school in adulthood.  Let them help with your billing and budget so they understand the processes behind the independence.  Encourage them to get involved in the social groups and hobbies.

                Being prepared and ahead of the situation is always best, especially with Autism.  Have plans and back up plans prepared.  Try not to push too much, but give them gentle pushes when needed.  And use a therapist to help through these transitions and ideas.  Often they will not listen to you because you are mom and dad.  Allow the therapist to push reality into them, and you encourage them and be their cheerleader.

                These are all things I work with on my young adult clients.  If you need help or ideas, contact me.

                Help your child be as successful as they can be!  Love them, encourage them, strengthen them.  Prepare yourself for being the parent, but also being their support and friend now that they are independent.  Good luck! 🙂

Contact Information

Jen Edwards

720-258-6392

jen@voyagescounseling.com

The Importance of Hearing Positive Words with Autism

The Importance of Hearing Positive Words with Autism

                Every day my son comes home with his behavior sheet and his back-and-forth folder.  Almost every day I get emails from one of his teachers or therapists.  And every day I cringe.  I cautiously and with optimism open these things, hoping for positive words- but almost 90% of the time it is negative information.  Information that scorns my heart.  Information that makes me wonder why.  Information that rarely makes me smile.

                Friday was a day off for me, and I was looking forward to my son coming home from school.  I had a lovely day being pampered and was excitedly getting ready for friends to come over for dinner.  I had not received any emails from staff at my son’s school; things were looking up!  The bus came around the corner, slowed down to stop at our driveway, and my heart was soaring.  I had a big smile and arms ready to open for squeezes!  The bus doors opened and my smile quickly faded.

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                The bus driver had a look of scorn on her face.  Here I was in a great mood, ready to tell her that he would be on the bus every afternoon for the rest of the month (a change in schedule temporarily), and she stared at me and said, “I need to talk to you.”  My anxiety rose, I even began to shake slightly, and my body felt tense.  I forced myself to walk to the bus, one foot in front of the other, as I looked up at her.  I forced a slight smile and listened to her complaining words of my son’s behavior.  I nodded and apologized, told her I would talk to him, and dragged my son off the bus.  I did not tell her he would be on more often; that seemed pointless at the moment.

                Needless to say, my mood was shot.  A few minutes later I got the dreaded email from a teacher about problems on the bus.  I sank lower and cried… real, true tears.  I grieved for my son, for the Autism, for myself, and for my husband.

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All Negative, No Positive

                I always think the worst in most situations.  I see an email from the school and my anxiety rises and I think what now.  I suppose it is just my personality- my parents are the same way.  My husband is not like this; I should learn a thing or two from him (though I would NEVER tell him this…).

                I crave positive remarks on my son.  They are rare.  My heart soars when I hear positive things.  I think sometimes people tend to compensate for this and tell us how we are such great parents.  Yes, that is nice, and we enjoy hearing it, but the focus is not on me- it is on my son.

                I tell myself to suck it up, get over it, and be thankful for the positive things in life.  But the hurt is still there.  An email or note from the teacher saying, he had a great day!  Or positive comments on his behavior sheet instead of only commenting on the negative things would be graciously accepted.  The bus driver smiling and saying good morning instead of fake-smiling and staring at my son until he sits down would be charming at 7:45 in the morning.

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Overcoming These Difficulties- Moving Forward

                So how can one overcome these frustrations and challenges?  Honestly, I do not know.  I do not have an answer that would be an easy solution.  So until then I keep moving forward and dwell on any positive remarks I get.

                In my job as a counselor and educator, I make it a point to say positive things to parents.  Yes, the negative things need to be said at times and need to be dealt with, but all a parent wants to hear on occasion is good things.   For all you professionals out there working with Autism or other challenges, remember to speak positive things to parents.  Even if it is something small, say it with enthusiasm and thankfulness.  Encourage the parents and remember their thoughts and feelings.

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                Is it worth saying something to the individuals involved with my son?  Sure, I can certainly explain it would be nice to hear positive things.  This is something any parents needs to decide if it is worth the discussion on.  I remember once overhearing a friend of mine talking to another teacher I was working with.  My friend’s mother had adopted some children that had special needs and one child was in my co-workers class.  They were talking about the day and how it had been a rough day for him.  My friend said she would talk with her mom and then looked at the teacher and kindly said, “You know, sometimes it would be nice for my mom to hear the good things he does rather than always hearing the bad things.”  The teacher was horrified when later on after reflecting on this, she realized the only time she contacted the parents was when something bad happened.

                Now I am that parent.  And many of you are too.  Conferences are next week, oh boy.  I think I will listen and simply say, “So I hear the entire negative, now please tell me something positive.”  Maybe this all seems selfish; after all I am the one wanting the positive news.  But then again, maybe it is assurance that my son has positive traits and others can see it too.  I feel tired, weary, and drained of it all.  But I keep moving forward.

 I love my son more and more.  And then he does that thing… that thing where he makes me smile and laugh without trying to… and I realize once again, my son is perfect the way he is!  I love him unconditionally and he brings me more joy than I can possibly understand.  And through all his challenges and frustrations, I thank God for him and am proud to be his mommy!

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