Being a new special needs mom
The first few months of being a new special needs mom was all about taking my son to appointments. All of a sudden, I just wasn’t relegated to the working from home while caring for my child, I had six therapy appointments for Ethan – two physical therapy sessions, two occupational therapy sessions and two speech therapy sessions. He started with two physical therapy sessions and eventually we got off the waitlist for three services. The regional center referred him to an early intervention program that they would completely cover the cost for. My son was developmentally assessed at the regional center in June 2018 and started in his early preschool program in September. I felt beyond blessed that my son was starting this Leaps and Bounds program before his second birthday. He would have a whole year to have intensive, preschool-like therapy three days a week, assisting him in all levels of development.
Making connections and reaching out
At first I was actually glad to get out of the house, then it began to get lonely. I hadn’t really talked much to anyone beyond 1 or 2 friends about this new world I had been submerged into. I needed to talk to people who had similar experiences; special needs parents who know what it’s like to care for a child that may not be like other kids. I started attending a monthly support group for special needs parents. It was comforting to hear about other parents’ experiences and struggles in raising special needs children. I first heard about the Jiobit, an autism tracking device; I learned that children and adults in the spectrum have their own unique personalities (some may be verbal or nonverbal, have an easy or more aggressive temperament etc.); I learned how important early intervention is; I learned about school districts and available programs for autistic children; I got insights into a whole new world. I was grateful to have so my resources at my disposal. For some parents in the group, such services were not yet available when their child was diagnosed. It was also therapeutic to hear myself talk openly about my child and my role as a special needs parent. If a tree falls to the ground and nobody is there to hear it, did it really make a sound? Now that I was speaking and I was heard, I felt a certain kind of emotional freedom.
A change in perspective
My perspective in life was changing too. Things I used to fuss and care about seemed frivolous and trivial. I was starting to care less about what people think. I started to ingratiate people less, even my own extended family, and just focused on my little, three-person family.