Yesterday we had a psychologist come and evaluate Joshua. She said she does not think that he has Autism, which is good news. She does, however, think that he has Sensory Processing Disorder, which is similar to Autism in some ways, but is not as severe. So, we are thankful to at least have some answers as to what is going on with Joshua.
Over the past few weeks, I have been reading everything I can on Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, knowing those were the two most likely things he might have. I have learned a ton about both disorders. I have also been reading a lot written by other mothers with children who have these disorders. All this research has opened my eyes to families of children who have all kinds of special needs. Until we had Joshua I never really thought about special needs much. I guess I didn’t have the occasion to. I do confess that I wasn’t very sensitive to families with children who might have needs. I thought I was, but not really. To some extent you cannot understand unless you go through it, but you can strive to educate yourself on common special needs so that you can become more sensitive to children around you. There are so many kids with special needs around you every day. And not just severe special needs, but things like ADD or Learning Disabilities. I know all of you know someone around you who has one of these. Everything I have learned has made me see these children and families in a different light. When I see a mom struggling at the store with a child who is throwing a tantrum and looks too old to be throwing one, I don’t think now, “wow, she should do a better job as a parent”. I realize now that this child may have special needs and this mother is most likely doing her best to control the situation, but is having a hard day. I now feel empathy for her. When I am teaching a children’s class and there is a child who is acting up, I now think, “maybe this child has ADD or LD and what can I do to engage them better”, not “this kid is a pain.”
I am not making excuses for children who have special needs, but I am saying that you don’t understand what it’s like until you have walked in that person’s shoes and you should be sensitive to that. People lately, who have learned of Joshua’s issues, have asked me how they can support us and be sensitive to him. I would say that what we as mom’s of special needs kids need most is a listening ear and someone who we know will not judge us as parents. Having a child with special needs is hard! And mine is mild compared to some, but I can say it is difficult, and there are days when I wish it weren’t so. But having a child with special needs is teaching me to be more sensitive to others around me and that is a good thing.