A Simple Gift

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I posted this in a local community group a few days ago and I was blown away by the warm, caring responses that it got.  It’s not just about me though, it’s for every special needs family out there this holiday season.  For all of you – the gifted, twice exceptional families, the families dealing with physical disabilities, and the families dealing with invisible disabilities.  This is for you too.  Merry Christmas from all of us!

We had a tough day today and I’m tired – worn out from trying to deal with my kids. You see, we have 2 special needs kids. They don’t look special needs, and most people assume that they’re simply misbehaving brats when we’re out in public.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season, I’m asking you guys: my neighbors, my community, my friends, to give us special needs families a gift this year. A simple gift of patience and tolerance.

The holiday season is really hard for those of us with sensory issues. Lights are too bright, there are too many people, and things are overwhelming – things you might not even notice. And when a kid goes into sensory overload, you might think they’re having a tantrum. But they’re not.

They’re having a meltdown – basically a panic attack where their fight/flight instincts kick in and they’re in a blind panic. They can’t control it, we can’t stop it, and spanking does nothing.

So if you see me sitting on the floor of Target restraining my kid as he melts down, please spare me the looks. The comments. Please, just walk on by and let us help him deal with it.

If you hear my 2-year-old in a restaurant screaming bloody murder because a drip of ketchup got on his mac and cheese, please be patient. We’re trying to get him calmed down and out of there.

If you see us parking in a handicapped spot, please don’t mutter “looks like everyone can get a card these days” as you pass me. You don’t know that my son is a flight risk and a hazard to himself. The card is to keep him safe, not for the physically able parent that you see.

Please, be patient. Tolerant. Understanding. We’re not trying to ruin your day or inflict our kids on you.

We struggle just to do things like grocery shopping.  We don’t get to do the “normal” things that your kids do like T-ball and going to the movies.  We can’t go to parties or the mall without major trauma.  Every day is a struggle, every day is filled with questions like “what did I do wrong?  Why can’t my kid do what my friends’ kids do?  Will he be able to cope and survive as an adult?”

We’re not asking for pity, or for a helping hand.  Just a little understanding and patience.

Thank you, and have a Merry Christmas

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