What My Special Needs Kid Taught Me About Parenting

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

There is not a book in the world that can prepare you for parenthood. I know because while I was pregnant with Norrin, I read more than a few trying to do so.

And while we were going through the Early Intervention evaluation process I read more books, trying to prepare myself for an autism diagnosis. Even though I tried to prepare myself, the autism diagnosis was still a kick in the gut. There was that small part of me that thought the doctor would say Norrin was “typical” and that there was no need to worry.

On the day, Norrin was diagnosed I cried all the way home from the doctors office. I went into my room and cried some more. I buried my head in a pillow and screamed as loud as I could. I was heartbroken, angry, confused. I had read somewhere that after a diagnosis, there is a series of emotions that a parent goes through, I felt them all – and some emotions are better left unsaid.

Nothing I read prepared me for the years ahead.  Not a single book prepared me for the hardships of parenting a special needs child. Or for the revolving door of therapists in and out of my home. Of the heartache I’d feel seeing other kids Norrin’s age in the playground playing appropriately. Nothing I read prepared me for the emotional toll it takes to parent a special needs child and advocating for my child’s right to an appropriate education.

But those books also never prepared me for the excitement I’d feel when Norrin finally said Mommy for the first time. Or for the pride I’d feel watching Norrin jump for the first time. Or for the tears I cried the first time he said, “I love you” without me saying it first. In the last four years since Norrin’s diagnosis – there have been so many firsts and I’ve treasured all of them. They are the milestones that keep me going on the really hard days.

That’s the thing about raising a child with autism.  You can make peace with it,  embrace it, know you don’t want to cure it, but to prepare for it? To accept it? Acceptance is not a one shot deal, it’s an on going process. There will always be something new to accept.

I spent a lot of time preparing for parenthood and even more time preparing for special needs parenting, searching for answers to all of my questions. Over the years, I’ve realized that you can’t prepare for it – it’s not a test you can study for. You will never find the answers in a book. The real answers come with time, patience and love – and Norrin taught me that.

 

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  1. by Evening Feeding: Vigilantes Are Only Cool In Comic Books

    On September 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    [...] What my special needs kid taught me about parenting. (Parents.com) [...]

  2. by Miz Kp

    On September 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    This line really resonated with me: ” Acceptance is not a one shot deal, it’s an on going process. There will always be something new to accept.” This is so true. Just when I think I am good, something happens to trigger the tears. It could be something as simple as a trip to the playground. Acceptance is also a journey. Getting on that path is one in the right direction because denial is no place to be. I say that because I know some in my family who are stuck in the denial phase.

  3. [...] This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.  [...]

  4. by Presley's Pantry

    On September 19, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I am waiting for these milestones myself. I will say the one thing my boy has taught me is patience…. To repeat myself with out getting flustered. And to breath…. it’s an uphill battle, and I got my armor on. :)

  5. by Leslie Limon

    On September 19, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    “You will never find the answers in a book. The real answers come with time, patience and love…” Truer and more inspiring words have never been written. :)

  6. by Eva Smith

    On September 20, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Thank you for sharing your heart. It’s so amazing how our children can teach us so much. My daughter has taught me how fulfilling it is to be a mom, The unconditional love of a child can’t be compared to anything in this world.

  7. by Monica

    On September 22, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I learn so much reading your posts.

  8. by lior

    On December 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I disagree with much of this but I’ve been there. I think these diagnoses are ruining peoples lives. So many kids are add or asd, why cant we accept this as a variation? Do you cry if your kid utterly stinks at soccer? some kids take ALOT longer to get to the same place or a place where they can function happily but most do. I hate the word “APPROPRIATE”
    Its a cash cow for therapists. Please, love your kids enough to shield them from some of this.

  9. by Bob Hendershot

    On December 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    When our son Trevor was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth, I was so angry with God…”I don’t deserve a son like this!” Well, it’s been 22 years since that day and I stand by my original statement, I really did not deserve a son like Trevor, but for the completely opposite reason. I’ve written a book describing the tremendous blessings this young man has brought into the lives of his family, friends & 1,000′s of baseball fans where he works at Angel Stadium.