It’s so hard for people to understand what special needs families are faced with on a daily basis. I tried to put just some of the daily challenges and choices I have to make, into words. My hope is that this will help people to gain perspective.
I’m blessed to have a very loving and supportive family, but not everyone does.
The following is dedicated to all the special needs families in the world.
If you were to walk into my house at any given time, you would find many things. Among them, the floor covered with toys and the kitchen with a sink full of dirty dishes.
If you ventured into the basement, you would see a mountain of dirty laundry patiently waiting to be washed. Look around some more, and you would find unmade beds, stacks of unpaid bills and even some shut-off notices.
Some people would look at this and judging me, say that this is a reflection of me as a person, a father or my ability to take care of my family.
To those people, I say thank you.
Why in the world would I thank someone for saying something like that?
The answer is both simple and complex all at the same time. While under different circumstances I would be insulted, hurt or even angered by those judgmental and thoughtless comments.
My kids are amazing, but they each require all of my time and every ounce of energy I can muster. On the very best of days, I’ve not enough to meet their needs.
I’m always taking the kids to various therapies and to or from school.
I make sure they are fed (which is an enormous sensory related challenge), clothed (which is another sensory related challenge) and have as many of their unique special needs met as possible. I deal with depression, meltdowns, anxiety, ADHD, fragile health issues, nightmares, self-injury, sleepless nights, IEP’s and an unforgiving world.
I need to have priorities, and these things are at the very top of the list.
That means everything else will inevitably take a back burner. It’s frankly, a matter of survival. It won’t always make sense to the rest of the world, but I stand fast knowing that I’m doing everything within my power to keep my kids above water.
So when you walk into my house, see the disaster and cast judgment based solely on what you see on the surface, I say thank you.
I say thank you because it means I’m doing my job. It means my priorities are in the right place, whether you happen to agree with them or not.
Make no mistake; I would love to have a clean house, be able to pay my bills and live a more comfortable life. You have to understand though, raising three kids with Autism is all consuming, especially when one has fragile health.
There is only so much time in the day and only so much of me to go around. Choices and sacrifices have to be made. If I have to choose between a clean house, perfect credit, and my kids, I will pick my kids every single time.
So thank you.
Thank you for judging me.
Thank you for showing for me that I’m doing the right thing.
Thank you for reinforcing that my priorities are in the right place.
Thank you for pointing out that everything that doesn’t matter in life is still there waiting for my attention because it means those that do, are getting everything I have.