Special Needs

Yesterday I posted my blog on Facebook. My gosh, was I scared! Seriously it was way outside my comfort zone. I fretted for hours back and forth if I should post or not. I called Mike and had him read it and see if I should post it. Was I really listening to God? Was I trying to take the glory? This is the sickness I’m so desperate to break. I simply had to post it. With shaky hands, I hit post. The outpouring of love has been amazing! I have been so humbled by the responses it generated. I know Mike and I have a tremendous story to share, and I really hope it blessed people. Thank you for reading and responding to the story.

I am trying so desperately to get this podcast up and running. I have no idea what I am doing! I downloaded audacity and I’m playing around with it and I cannot figure out how to save it to an Mp3 and how to edit. It is super frustrating! I feel excited to start this journey and I want to just jump in and get going and I can’t figure it out. Yikes!!

I talked to my sister this morning, and we are planning to conduct our first interview next week. She is a special education teacher and her wisdom on children with special needs is invaluable to me! My son, although highly able, has been diagnosed with a plethora of different things. It honestly has been so challenging to raise James. I am a people pleaser to a fault, and James is absolutely NOT a people pleaser! He is a people pisser offer! He is tough. He is unbelievably awesome and I am so glad God has given me the opportunity to parent him, but I must say, I feel like I was not equipped to handle James.

James thinks outside the box. Whether that is because he has ADHD, bipolar, Asperger’s, or oppositional defiance … I don’t’ know. James kind of fits all the diagnosis. He walks to his own drummer and he will be damned to follow any rule we give. He won’t follow it, simply because we’ve made it. We’ve had to come up with creative ways for him to think he made up the rule. Then he will follow it to a tee. He is super responsible, but only on things he wants to be responsible with. Homework is not one of those things.

I’ve tried to get help for him at school, but have never really succeeded. He is so smart; the school would look at me like I’m crazy. And believe me, I felt crazy! James would hold it together at school beautifully. Our problem was how he behaved at home. When James would come home from school, we would engage in World War every night. It was exhausting! His anger and temper tantrums would get so severe; he would throw things and break walls, curse and scream! I used to think my neighbors would call CPS on us. I had no idea how to handle his erratic behavior.

All the parenting advice books had no effect on James. Time outs were a joke. Distracting him was impossible. I used to describe his outbursts as mini seizures: they would happen without reason and they wouldn’t end until the seizure ended. Medicine helped, but it came with its own sleuth of problems. The shame of my inability to parent my son, weighed me down to no end.

But it was my sister that suggested the help I needed. She pressed that someone besides us needs to see his behavior. James was Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: outside our house, he was great. It was only with us, in particular me, did the fits happen.

So when I finally got a behavioral therapist to come into our house and see the behavior first hand, it was transformative. She is the one who suggested he might have Asperger’s. She suggested we put James on a schedule and be clear with our expectations while he was calm. She explained to us that our reactions were making it so much worse. We had to explain to him things that come naturally to us. Things we would never think need explaining. Things such as where to sit at dinner, what is and isn’t an accident, how cooking can occur in a variety of different orders, and a variety of different things that still shock me that we have to explain to him.

Now at 17, we still have outbursts, but NOTHING like we used to! James has forced me, in more ways than one, to hop off my people pleasing craziness and climb out of my shame pit. I had to stop caring what others thought and do the very best I could. I wish I could say I’m great at that today. I’m still not. But oh my, I am so much better!

Long story to say, my sister, a special education teacher who holds a master’s degree in special education, is an expert in this field. She has a heart for children that struggle and she is a wealth of wisdom for me, and I hope for others too.

So once I figure out how to do this podcast thing, she will be my first guest. Stay tuned and thanks for reading my rambling!


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