If you have a child with special needs, you may be asking: what is normalcy for me, my family, and my child during this time?
Over the course of the last few weeks, life as we know it has drastically changed. Daily routines have been thrown out the window. We await updates from our government, churches, jobs, schools, and family members.
Among all of that, you have a child with special needs who requires certain routines, support systems, and infrastructures in order to aid and manage their global needs. So what do you do in the meantime during this season of uncertainty and stress?
Prioritize your family
This next statement might sound overwhelming, but I hope it will instead bring you peace.
It is okay to prioritize the safety, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of your family.
- Sometimes that looks like creating a consistent routine to be followed each day.
- Sometimes that looks like putting on a Disney movie (or four), while you have a video conference call for work.
- Sometimes that means doing schoolwork daily.
- Sometimes that means you get through one assignment a week.
- Sometimes that means this week, you’re having pizza for dinner.
- And still, sometimes that means crying in the bathroom because this is all just too much to bear.
So how do you get through? How do you balance the pressure of being a parent of a child with special needs, a brand-new homeschool teacher, a spouse, an employee, a neighbor, a friend, and a human being?
Focus on the present
As the days continue, the pressure just seems to build. There appears to be a constant buzzing of what the future might hold. Before we can process the thoughts of today, we’re being flooded with thoughts of tomorrow, next week, and next month.
Matthew 6:34 reads, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
There’s something about this verse that speaks so loudly during this time. When we pay attention to what God is doing right now in our lives and in our family, instead of being anxious about what’s next, we acknowledge God is in control, knowing he will take care of our tomorrows.
We can depend on God as our lifeline to joy, peace, and rest even in uncertain times.
Many of us were brought up learning that independence is important. Dependency on others is often looked down upon and we raise our children to be independent and self-sufficient (to the best of their abilities). Especially in the special needs community, fostering independence is an integral piece of everything we do.
I could write about how routines are important. As a Special Education Teacher, I could stand behind the incredible work that teachers are doing to provide support to you and your child during this time. I could even discuss how if we all work together, we’ll get through this.
But, I believe that right now, in this moment, the best thing I can say is to understand just how much God just loves you. He sees your need. He sees your home. He sees your circumstance. And He invites you to give him the entirety of your heart.
Celebrate the small victories
When you’re a parent of a special needs child, there are many difficult moments, so you have to celebrate even the smallest of victories.
Celebrate each small moment as a huge victory. Take it one day at a time. Give yourself grace, and embrace the grace that God pours on you each day. Pay attention to what God is doing in this very moment (even when it isn’t understood).
Oh, and don’t forget to wash your hands.