In a world where everyone has an opinion and judgement about everything, how do you survive as a special needs parent?
“Don’t Judge Me!”
I use this phrase A LOT! Most of the time I just quietly say it to myself… Other times I wait until I am alone and I scream these 3 little words! Why do we judge each other so harshly? I’ve been on the other side, I have caught myself saying ‘why can’t they make that child listen?’ or ‘if my child did that I would do this!’ Why can’t we as a society help each other? Even if it’s just a knowing nod, or a smile saying ‘I get it!’.
My daughter, Emma, has suffered severe trauma at the hands of another child and has encountered many bullies, both children and adults. She has been diagnosed with ADHD, Social Anxiety Disorder, she’s on the verge of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, among other things she has going on. She also has an IEP at school. It’s not as extensive as it used to be, but she will still need some help all throughout school.
(A little bit of a backstory as far as school goes)
At her previous school she did not get the help that she needed, and unfortunately that caused her to fall further behind. However, since she has been at Avalon Elementary she has flourished! Last year, her 4th grade year, she finished with 2 A’s & 2 B’s! This girl had NEVER gotten an A before attending AES! She has had phenomenal teachers and they make sure that she succeeds! This year she has learned so much and is starting to have confidence in herself with her schoolwork. I have cried many many positive tears in the last year & a half because she has grown so much as a student! I never thought that was possible, as we were told that it would be unlikely that she would ever be on grade level. As a mom, that judgement devastated me! I have had some of her teachers and administrators from AES tell me how upset that they have been because the other school(s) held her back from reaching her potential… All because they didn’t want to deal with or didn’t understand her disabilities. Emma has said to me ‘Why do people judge me? Why don’t they understand that everyone isn’t the same?’. I wish I had an answer for her, except ‘people are just mean and opinionated sometimes’
Emma has daily struggles with expressing her emotions. She has the biggest heart of anyone that I know. I love that about her! Even with a big heart she still gets angry, frustrated, flustered, etc. Unfortunately, her most substantial obstacle is, expressing those emotions in an appropriate way. It makes me so sad when I see other parents judging her when she gets upset. All they see is this perfectly ‘normal’ looking 12 year old that towers over others her age showing emotion that most adults have trouble expressing! She gets angry and reacts, this is when I have to remove her from the situation so that she can collect herself and once she has a ‘time out’ she realizes that she should react in an appropriate manner. With Emma’s problem solving skills she operates as a younger child. I will say, though, since we have been living in Avalon her anxiety has gotten so much better.
Is Social Anxiety Disorder real?
Absolutely!!! Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Can you see a migraine? How about PMS? No, a person can tell you their symptoms but you can’t actually walk up to a woman and tell that she has PMS! So as a society we need to STOP judging others! We need to build a support system for each other and allow a safe place for other moms that are at their wits end or that just need to vent can do so! We hold everything in because we are afraid of the judgement! I’m tired of holding it in, sometimes being a mom is hard, sometimes it’s just downright unbearable! Most of the time it’s the most rewarding part of my life but there are times where I just sit in my room and cry.
(This is a time that I am afraid of judgement but I have to be completely transparent and honest with this topic) Sometimes I wish that her disabilities were more noticeable when you look at her. Maybe then other kids and especially adults wouldn’t judge her, or me! It is so hard to be out in public at an event or in a store and she has a ‘meltdown’. Not because I can’t handle the meltdown, because I have gotten better at figuring out what needs to happen, but because of the stares. I know what their thoughts are ‘That child is nothing but a problem”, “That mom has no clue what she’s doing”, “That child is just a brat”, I could keep going! I know these are their thoughts because people have actually said these things to me, or even worse, to Emma! I just look at them and say (the times that I don’t break down in tears) “You don’t know her story!!!” Even people that have known her for years judge me and judge her, those people are not involved in our everyday lives. I have learned to keep my circle small and only include those that I truly trust.
In closing, I want to say to those mommas that can’t see past this tantrum or this meltdown, or this days judgement from others… it gets BETTER! Emma has come so much further along than any of us ever thought possible! We have so many people to thank for her accomplishments and those people chose to help and guide her instead of judge her! The incredible administration at her school helps her find ways to deal with peer situations without judging her! She gets good grades at school, because her teachers believe in her and do not judge her! She has the most amazing Choir Director/Music Teacher that has taken her under her wing and has encouraged her to strive to do her best and does not judge her! Her ESE teacher saw such potential in her and introduced her to Magic Curtain which she loves and didn’t judge her! The director of each play she has done has helped her and been so patient with her and didn’t judge her! There are countless others that have continued to help my little girl see that she is extraordinary!
So see everyone, if we help others and not judge them we can help them reach their potential!