I’m doing the best that I can.

One of the hardest parts of having a special needs child is in knowing where to draw the line. Or so it seems at the Atwood Zoo.

Some of the things about behavior and discipline and participating in different activities is not as clear as it is with "typical" kids. Or so it seems to me. With Kenzo and Mabel, we have pretty clear limitations and determinations about how they should act in certain situations and what kind of activities they can be part of.

I saw a little girl at the soccer field today. She is autistic. An amazingly sweet, kind, little girl with autism. And she was really struggling. She tended to scream more than participate. And it just caused me to think about how we make decisions for Suzie. About how we discipline. About how determine what "typical" things she should be part of, and where we need to default to the "special needs" alternatives.

Because sometimes I think that we (speaking generally here as parents of special needs kids) tend to have a real problem with the unknown middle ground. With Kenzo and Mabel, things are pretty clear. Black is black and white is white. There is very little gray. With Suzie that are slivers of black and white (i.e. she can’t keep up in a typical class but she can be part of the choir at church) but much, much more is gray.

And so it comes down to this. You just have to do what you think is right. Gut check. There is no manual or "just like everyone else." Because your child never will be "just like everyone else."

In the case of the little girl today, no one, except her parents, knows what playing on a "typical" team means to her. Maybe it is the highlight of the week. To wear the uniform, to walk through the tunnel, to eat the snack, to be on a team, any team. And so they do the gut check, to look past the screaming they know will come, past the stares from other kids and families, past the snarky looks from the unknowing, because they believe, and that is all it is…belief that having her play is the right thing to do.

And so that is what it all comes down to…just the realization that you are going to make mistakes about things, because so much of what you do is in the gray area. But you can only do one thing…do the best you can…and never look back.

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Posted on March 10, 2007, in Dad stuff. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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