Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life Lessons and Special Needs

Life Lessons and Special Needs:

I write about Elizabeth a lot. She's the rascal with the glasses in the box with her non-special needs younger sister. Lizzie and Beka are good playmates right now, time will tell if it remains that same way as they grow up.

I know I write about Elizabeth/Lizzie a lot, but there is a reason. First, I want other parents who have children with special needs to realize that they aren't alone. Second, there are some challenges that we have to face when it comes to Elizabeth.

I think the cruelty of Autism Spectrum Disorder or even Autism is that when people see your child from a distance, they appear like every other child on the planet so they assume they fit society's ideals about normal. As they get closer they realize this is not the case. For some children, there is no speech and they act out in public or even at home. I have several girlfriends whose children have put holes in the walls, or broken windows, because their child becomes agitated and breaks something. The cruel thing is, that while on the outside, they are born looking healthy and happy and like other children when you realize that it isn't well, it is devastating. It feels as if the bottom of your world has dropped out from underneath you and you are left hanging by a thread. And our family is one of the lucky families. We can teach Elizabeth how to socially interact, how to do laundry, cook her own meals. Some children with autism can do these things too. Some cannot however, and will need specialized care. Again, we are one of the lucky families, I can teach Lizzie how to do the things she needs to do to take care of herself and she is even eager to do these things. She makes a great sandwich, one slice of meat and all. She does a stellar job painting toenails - even if they do look psychedelic when she's done, it's awesome.

This week, we are starting to learn how to work a dryer and a washing machine. I am teaching Lizzie about the right amount of laundry soap to use so she can help wash clothing. She takes out the garbage in the bathroom every morning (she's too little to tackle the kitchen garbage, that will have to remain Daddy & Sarah's tasks for now). She can help me load the dishwasher and she even likes to wash dishes these days, how long this will last, I don't know, but I figure I should take advantage of her eagerness while it is here. While some people would never dream of trying these things with their special needs child, I think it is very important. I understand all to well that Daddy's and Mommy's die and so it is imperative for Lizzie to learn these basic life skills if she is able to do so. I realize that Chris and I will not be able to always help her and be there for her, and I don't want Sarah and Rebekah to worry that Lizzie cannot take care of herself. So I will teach Lizzie to cook, read recipes, do laundry, clean house, make beds, do the things she has to do. Someday I will even teach her how to clean her own bathroom. While my children gripe about doing these things, I also realize that Sarah has to know how to do these things, so will Beka. The time will come someday for each girl to spread her wings and fly away and while it may take Lizzie a little longer until that happens, when the day comes, I want her to be able to go to the edge and take that leap. My long term goal is for her to learn how to take care of herself - we'll always need to be nearby, but with God's help and our guidance, Elizabeth will fly like our other girls. Although, not too soon, thankfully. I'm not ready for that yet. She is my baby after all.

I hope you all have a good weekend. And a great week.
Love in Christ,

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