This week’s Meet a Mom Monday features Carleen. She is one of the strongest women I know, and I think her approach to parenting her son is top notch. I know you’ll think she is as extraordinary as I do!
1. Tell me about your family. I am a single parent of one, single since before his birth. Kiddo’s father lives in another state and has only recently become active in establishing a relationship. Kiddo has a stepbrother who he plays with online via xbox periodically; has only met him twice. Interestingly, they were xbox friends long before they knew of each other through parents.
2. What is your child or children’s best quality? He is humorous and endearing
3. What is your child’s biggest challenge? Following instructions, even when written down, or following multi-step instructions (thinking through to the next step)
4. What does the world not understand about your child? He doesn’t recognize subtle body language and social cues, he doesn’t interrupt or blurt out on purpose. He’s emotionally behind his peers but academically ahead of them so his behavior at times looks especially out of place.
5. How can a passerby help you during a challenging moment? (Example open a door when your hands are full, help with other children during a meltdown, keep walking and don’t stare etc.) If someone gave me a quick nudge and said something like, “Boys!” or “Tweens!,” that would be enough. Otherwise, MYOB. (mind your own business)
6. Would you prefer curious people come up to you or your child and ask questions or mind their own business? MYOB, for the most part
7. What is your biggest hope for your child’s the future? That I can find the resources to help him learn where his challenges are so that he can work around them when he reaches college/adulthood. Helping him understand his impulsivity and getting ahead of it so he does not make an impulsive decision that has dire, adult consequences.
8. What do you wish you could tell yourself at the beginning of your special needs journey? You need to find information, find someone local who can do behavioral therapy, teach calming techniques/mindfulness. Re-educate yourself on the art of parenting and understand you are not catering to your child but redefining the methods. Expectations of behavior, achievement, manners, etc. do not change; they just may take longer to implement.
9. What would you ask your future self? Did you do enough? Did you figure out to find the right tools for him in time or did you screw him up for good? An ADHD diagnosis should come with educational classes for the parents, for they need guidance to help their kids first, THEN they can as a village help the kid. It’s the PARENTS who need the resources – GOOD resources, not Google resources – to accept and learn how adapt their style to best guide their kids and not think of it as letting their child run the show. The parents need to learn how to teach their kids calming techniques how to be more in tune with their bodies, how to accept they need additional tools for executive functioning, and to manage the sensitivities of their emotions so they don’t misinterpret or overreact.
10. Do you have any words of encouragement for other special needs moms? There are so many more resources now than ever; find them and utilize them to help you understand. The way medicine/education are set up do not integrate parents well into the process, so what the child learns in school or in OT/PT/BT are not reinforced in the home, and may be counter to what parents know to do. It needs to be a whole family process, not just an individual focus. Find a therapist – for yourself and your child. I am constantly at odds with myself over expectations of a well-behaved, well-adjusted kid and trying to accept that he needs more time or a different explanation/SOMETHING to get there.