Monday, February 7, 2011

What is Normal?



I have to confess, I didn't get the idea for this blog on my own. So thank you Kirk Kraft.


What is normal? Why does it seem society thinks it has the right to dictate what normal is for everyone? Can you establish your own normal?


Well it's part of life for starters - The majority seem to decide what is normal. There isn't a lot of abnormal in our house, at least it doesn't feel abnormal. Then I talk to people without a special needs child (special needs, being medical needs or even educational special needs) and I realize that not everyone watches their child like a hawk when they start coughing, because you never know if the flu shot is going to do it's job this year and you could end up in the ER getting breathing treatments. Not everyone has a once a year reminder (and usually more often than that) that your child is struggling to meet the standards of the school system and to catch up with her peers. Those moments of doctor's visits for amblyopia, asthma & allergies, and the IEP's are the moments I learn to live with. Like Kirk wrote, trips to the hospital and once a month labs have become their normal. We know that every few months Elizabeth has to see the opthamologist and during cold and flu season, we have to be careful so she doesn't catch anything respiratory. Thankfully as she gets older it seems to become more about allergies flaring up her asthma than a common cold or the flu. However, there are those moments when nothing prepares you for that swift kick to the gut of being reminded that your child isn't like the other children.


It's often something as simple as watching Elizabeth trying her darnedest to sing and dance with the other kids for a Christmas musical or for Vacation Bible School. Or sitting in an IEP meeting and realizing that as far as we've come, there is still a long road ahead of us. Sometimes it is being in a restaurant and having some one else's child call your daughter, "the little crazy girl" because she talks differently or gets excited quickly. Everyone is Elizabeth's friend in her mind, but not all of them feel that way about Elizabeth. Those are the moments where I get that swift kick in the butt and an instant reminder that while denial is lovely, I have to be honest and face that my daughter isn't like the other children.

There will always be an IEP, a doctor's visit (Although in the next few years the trips to the opthamologist should dissipate to once a year. There is something about that 10 year marker in age, where the eye stabilizes to it's new level and remains), there is always going to be some challenge where Elizabeth will need a little extra help.
Chris and I have had numerous conversations about the fact that at some point in time, Elizabeth will move out - but more than likely we or someone will always need to be close by to help her out. When she is frustrated she struggles to think things through. Some of that is a maturity issue (after all how many 9 year olds do you know who think things through completely), but some of it is her autism. It's frustrating and heartbreaking, but it also comes with it's own rewards. We get to keep our little girl a little longer than the average child. She has an amazing imagination that comes to life when she plays alone or with her friends. She loves to read and be read to, this means extra snuggle time for me or Chris.


There are a lot of things in our home that aren't "normal". It's not the same as a medical need, but it's ours and it comes with challenges and with rewards.


I hope you all have a good week. And God bless you.
Love in Christ,
Maureen

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