If someone were to ask you what it would be like to have a child with a disability or special needs, what would be the first words to pop into your head?
Difficult, challenging, sad, hard work, maybe even impossible? Well, you would be right; bringing up a child, who is physically or mentally disabled, has special needs or a behavioural disorder is often all of those things. It is certainly very different to bringing up a mainstream child.
There is however another side of the story, a much more upbeat and positive way to look at it. Living with disability is certainly not all doom and gloom. Along with all the challenges, the sadness and the physical and emotional strain come moments of utter joy! Along with all the lows, you get to experience incredible highs when your child achieves milestones that most people take for granted, I’ll never forget the full on celebration we had in a coffee shop the first time my son sucked through a straw for the first time ( aged 7)! You also get to let out your “silly self” on a regular basis – that inner child that most adults keep under wraps. Sometimes the only way to entice a child with additional needs to co-operate is to become a child yourself; a case of “if you can’t beat them, join them”!
Sometimes the only way to get a grumpy, recalcitrant child out of bed is to become a fork lift truck, driving round the room a few times making truck-type noises, arms outstretched, getting taller and shorter before swooping in to scoop up your child ( now giggling hysterically ) and driving them to the changing table. In order to change the nappy of a reluctant child, you may find yourself becoming an army officer, barking orders to Sergeant Stench and Private Pong to stop wriggling and fighting. A great way to entice a frightened child into the shower was to dress her in a swimming costume, arm bands, wellies and an umbrella – strange, but true, you can’t keep her out of the shower now!
At times, when you’ve had a long day, constantly struggling, negotiating, fighting and pleading to get your child to do every little thing, it’s nice to stop and take a look at yourself and laugh at all the crazy things you’ve done and said to get through the day. Look back and enjoy the opportunities you’ve had to be completely daft and let your silly self loose!
We all have our own journey in life and we all find our own ways to cope. However, if you have a child with special needs, it can (despite the many lows) allow you to experience life in a richer, more colourful and joyous way. You just have to look a little harder to find the joy in life and appreciate it in a different way.
As a group at Dare to be Different, we enjoy coming together to share these ridiculous moments and laugh at our lives – no matter how challenging. We always try to adhere to the infinite wisdom of Eric Idle : “Always look on the bright side of life.” Sharing the highs and lows with friends and having a bit of a giggle makes life a lot easier.
Dare to be Different meet every first Wednesday of the month at Bourne Children’s Centre in Queen’s Road, Bourne, from 10am till 12 noon. For any further information please contact the children’s centre on 01778 395895.