December 19, 2017
We live in a world that loves a superhero movie or story. The good old fashioned good-vs.-bad movie never disappoints at the box office, raking in the billions, a clear indication that now, more than ever, people want to be inspired and uplifted. We all love to see a scenario where good does actually win over evil in a clear-cut kind of way.
What if I told you that you most likely encounter a real-life superhero every single day, and you may even be one yourself?
Behold the Special-Needs Mom.
Of course I know special-needs dads and grandparents are amazing as well, but this is a shout out to the moms because if there was ever a group that needed a pat on the back, it’s us!
I became a member of this tribe of women when my daughter was diagnosed with severe autism a little over 12 years ago. As many of us have said more than once, we didn’t choose this role but rather it chose us. Instead of feeling hopeless and defeated many have responded to what was a jolt to our expectation of the way parenting was “supposed to look like” in inspiring ways.
I am awed by the absolute heroism I witness daily in this community. We have been given often unimaginable scenarios where there are no concrete answers. Despite much progress in this world for acceptance, which is beautiful to see, we still live in a time where there is denial about what is happening to our children and the likely factors contributing to epidemics like autism as the numbers continue to rise.
1 in 36 children is now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
1 in 6 children is diagnosed with a developmental disorder.
Our stories and even our families have frequently been stonewalled by the mainstream media which, in the autism world, often leaves us feeling like we aren’t being heard or fairly represented. As frustrating as this has been, we have built a strong community where we continue to advocate and speak out about providing our kids with the best possible outcomes. By sheer volume and strength, our voices are coming to the forefront. It seems the more they attempt to squash our message and our voices, the more prevalent they become.
So I just feel compelled to shout from the rooftops special-needs moms are true examples of being the ultimate hero and badass all rolled into one. It is time to stop beating ourselves up and recognize our amazing contributions. We are constantly recreating ourselves in order to meet the needs of our families and there is really nothing we cannot do.
Below are just a few scenarios I’ve witnessed in our community over the years that gives a small picture as to why we deserve a cape of our very own. I’m also aware that I’m only scratching the surface here:
1. We have been told by doctors that there is no hope for our children, but we don’t believe them. We create paths for our kids that far exceed most of their doctors’ expectations by tenfold and then some. The moral of the story is the best way to make sure something will happen is to tell us it can’t be done.
2. We have been marginalized for questioning what is best for our children’s health by the very medical professionals that we trusted to protect them. Instead of being bullied into silence, we rise up and educate other people to do their research and follow their intuition when they know they aren’t getting the answers that their children deserve.
3. We write books and start nonprofit organizations, because someone needs to.
4. We empower our children to advocate for themselves and love who they are, even when it doesn’t fit into the societal norm of what childhood is “supposed” to look like.
5. When our children are unable to communicate, we are their voices.
6. We collaborate with our children’s teachers, therapists, and health practitioners to provide the best possible outcomes so our children can reach their full potential.
7. Many of us are stay-at-home moms by choice, but there are also many that have had to give up our chosen professions because respite or daycare isn’t always feasible or affordable for our kids with complex needs. When choices are taken away, it can feel incredibly isolating.
8. We homeschool our children to make sure their needs are being met, even when it isn’t the most convenient decision for us or our families.
9. We often create new jobs, products, or services. Or we enroll in an existing business model and build our own business around it because we want to help others but also need to contribute financially. And 9-to-5 jobs often aren’t even an option. (See #7 about respite.)
10. We open our homes up to others, even during constant chaos, because we understand the true value of communing and empowering each other by sharing our stories.
11. We somehow find the time to go back to school and become medical professionals, therapists, teachers, and advocates to provide support to other families.
12. Even on our worst days when every single thing goes wrong, we are always there for others with words of encouragement and sometimes a kick in the pants to help when it is needed most.
13. Given the high rate of divorce due to the stress of raising children with special needs, many of us are separated or divorced and doing it on our own with little-to-no time to breathe. (See #7 about respite.)
14. Many of us who are married or in relationships don’t get time to spend with our spouses or partners because they work extra hours to pay for it all. I mean, when is the last time we’ve had a date night? So we do the best we can with the little time we can actually spend together.
15. We become self-taught master dieticians in order to provide our kids with the nourishment they need to thrive.
The next time you apply for a job in the outside world, consider putting “superhero” on your resume because it is the absolute truth. Being a special-needs parent should be recognized as the equivalent credential of having a Ph.D. or being a member of the Peace Corps.
If you feel inclined to share, give a shout out to a special-needs mom you know who deserves it. That includes you!
~ Queen B
For more by Queen B, click here.