Does it matter who you bother with? Will you ever totally fit in?
When Z was born you kind of loose your old friends and make new friends which is what everyone does. That’s fine you get over that straight away, of course you have new friends who shares the excitement of a new baby, the comparing starts even though they say not to, everyone compares their child to the ones they bother with. Mine don’t sleep through, mine still has three naps, mine does this etc. Then you get to the toddler stage. As with many other Sen parents who I’m only really meeting now I know it’s quite common for these parents to feel some jealousy when their child doesn’t hit milestones. That could be sitting up, walking, talking and of course toilet training. We all worried, we all noticed that our children didn’t hit those milestones or in some cases hit them really early like Z with his puzzles but because you couldn’t see that in everyday life it didn’t seem to matter.
Then when you finally meet and engage with parents from school you really start to notice how different and unique each child with autism are. I’d say way more unique than children who were at playgroup. Children at playgroup are like sheep! They follow they interact with one another, they all seem to be very similar, our children are different. They all have very different needs. Ok we can say oh they are similar because they don’t talk, they all run but for each one of them you can really see them thinking before they do what they do. They’ll run for the chase, that’s a game, their just unsure of how to play that game with someone of their age. Come on, Mam gets it that it’s time to run! They can lead you to the door when they know it’s time to go, even if they seem to be having fun they know the time without any clocks!
As it is now Z is making huge progress with his language and of course I’m proud of him. But it’s that difficult position when I know how I felt when the children at playgroup were doing things and mine wasn’t. Of course I know the other parents are just as excited as me it seems we all thrive on a new thing a child with autism is doing it’s like one is toilet trained, that gives me hope that maybe one day Z will be too. But being in that Sen school setting not each parent we talk to has a child with autism. So they must be feeling the same as me? What if their child talks do they feel guilty because the children are in the same class? Would I feel guilty if it turns out that Z’s best friend was in a wheelchair and Z can walk? We couldn’t have someone over to play who’s in a wheelchair as we have steps to the front door. Yes I know I’m over thinking things but it’s not something that couldn’t happen just because someone’s in a wheelchair don’t mean they can’t talk. So it could in theory being a Sen school actually happen. My house isn’t wheelchair friendly!
Where do we as Sen parents stand? We don’t seem to belong anywhere. We’ve left the safety of the playgroups behind, but we’re all at a different level in school. What happens if Z learns to communicate well and mainstream is mentioned, then we wouldn’t belong there either as he would still have needs, be ‘different’ and of course be the new kid! At the moment I look at Z’s autism and see it as a disability, autism is the reason he’s not talking, has no awareness of danger and have no social skills. So what will happen if he does talk? Will he be too ‘disabled’ for ‘normal’ actives say swimming lessons, but seen as not disabled enough when trying to go through disability swim sessions if he could talk?
Talking to other Sen parent bloggers I know I’m not alone.
” Honestly, those baby and toddler classes were heart breaking because the worry back then was unreal. One of the hardest stages of this journey was when I just knew something wasn’t quite “right”, but family, friends, and health professionals tried to convince me otherwise” This with permission is taken from Laura from Brody Me & GDD .
Miriam from Faithmummy feels she don’t fit in anywhere.
“I run a toddler group and while my children still went through breast feeding, teething, etc so many of the mums struggle to relate because my kids are disabled. We don’t fit in at church. We don’t fit in at family events. We are even finding we are not typical. Even for places like camhs as we have children with conflicting needs. I sometimes feel I don’t fit in here too.Yes f my son gets an award at school I feel so silly sharing it as I think everyone will be laughing at me. It is just terribly isolating!”
Kerry who blogs over at The Odd Sock Diary say
“I don’t fit in with the parents of typically developing children, because my son has Down’s Syndrome, and I don’t fit in with other SEND parents, not even with other parents whose kids also have DS, as my boy faces fewer challenges than many of them. ‘Too disabled’ for one group, ‘not disabled enough’ for the other — it’s like we’re ploughing our own furrow sometimes. But there are a few trusted people who understand.”
But yet Charlie from Our altered life has the best advice!
“I try to compete only with myself (it’s why I was always rubbish at sport in school and ALWAYS the last one chosen for group games!). It’s totally natural to look left & right and see others achieving or struggling but it does nothing to help us. It’s much easier said than done but we do fit in, where we are meant to and that’s with our own crew . Social media is incredible in so many ways and then dangerous in others because you don’t always see the full story. I’m thrilled for the parents of toddlers who can recite the alphabet backwards while mummy home bakes Victoria sponge cake that Mary berry would be proud to call her own but I’m winging it one day at a time. I think if people are honest, it’s all any of us are doing x ”
So just because we’re all parents with of children with additional needs were all going though different things, were all lonely in one way of not fitting in. Well we do fit in somewhere and that’s social media!