Special Needs Parenting

What Is Normal?

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This is day 25 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Bethany is guest posting for us, asking us the question “What is Normal?” and challenging us not to compare our struggles.

Compared to many families we have things fairly easy. My son, recently diagnosed with PDD, (Pervasive Development Disorder, or high functioning autism) is verbal now – almost nonstop. He’s in a typical kindergarten classroom and thriving there. He’s even making friends! Compared to many special needs families, we are pretty…


What is normal? Autism Special Needs

But what is normal, anyway? The more I have tried to listen to the stories around me, the more I understand the quote above from Diary of a Mom. All humans, all families, are complex and unique. Part of my son’s uniqueness just has a label now, after three years of Early Intervention, the Intermediate Unit, and many hours of therapy and evaluations.

And yet, despite having a bona fide diagnosis, I still hesitate at times to say that I’m a special needs parent. When I compare our story to so many others that are much more affected in their daily lives, let alone families facing life threatening illness, it feels like a cop out.

Because how does my child hiding under a table at a restaurant compare to another child running away at every opportunity? Or my annoyance at the constant stream of words pouring out of my kiddo (as if he’s been saving it all up from the years he couldn’t speak) compare to someone who’s never heard “I love you” from their loved one?

For a long time I wasn’t honest with myself. I tried to pretend that I was ok, even when parenting my kids just felt SO MUCH HARDER then what the rest of my circle were experiencing, but that just left me feeling alone, and it certainly didn’t help my kids.

Do you know what DID help?

First, I had to admit that we were struggling. I had to be honest and reach out for help, by scheduling the evaluations, the therapies, and prioritizing time for me to recharge when I needed to. (Lots of predawn running.)

I also had to stop comparing our journey to everyone else, good or bad. Comparison may be the thief of joy, but it can also prevent you from asking for help when you need it. I had to focus on getting through our own challenges, celebrating our own triumphs, learning to deal with and even embrace our “normal”.

Comparing my life to friends with neuro typical kids was killing me with seeing everything that T couldn’t do, while comparing my life to those with greater challenges made me feel like I couldn’t ask for help, because my life was easy compared to theirs. I had to stop all of it to be able to embrace our own journey.

Life is complicated, and my hard is just that – my hard – just as your hard is your hard. No comparison necessary.


Bethany is a SAHM to two kids and wife to a cute guy. She runs a lot and designs jewelry for her etsy shop. www.boojayknits.etsy.com

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