There have been struggles with Michael in the last few months, emotional trials and growing pains, difficulty dealing with difficult emotions. All of us have been affected by this. The good thing has been that it has made us talk more openly as a family, and start to consider new options in what we need to do to function better.
A lesson that has been going more smoothly though, is the lesson of being appreciative of what we have, despite difficulties and hardships. At this time of year, it is easy to lose track of those that are suffering more than us. We get caught up in parties, gift giving and such. If we are special needs parents, this year signals a harder time of adjustment for our kids with the change in routine and such. But when our kids start modeling the positive lessons we are showing them about faith, family and sharing what we have, that is a great victory. For our family, it is wonderful seeing Michael grow in this way.
Spirituality and prayer is a subject fraught with a lot of difficulty for anyone with special needs. It is affecting Michael a lot as he is trying now to come to grips with his belief in God, where he can find God, and how this translates to helping others. Church has become challenging for him with its noises, adherence to rules and other structures which he is finding difficult. We have not been able to resume Sunday school or sitting in the pews, but he tells me how much peace he finds in taking communion and feeling God inside him.
In the last six months, with his increase in anxiety and other issues, routine and school work have become challenging, but the message of helping others is shining through stronger than ever. On his own, Michael insisted on giving gently used toys to kids less fortunate, he is befriending children who seem lost at school, and was very proud today to help me bring some socks with supplies such as toothbrush, soap and paste and floss to a local homeless shelter for men with mental health issues. When I heard about this, I couldn’t help thinking, without the proper resources and support, Michael could become one of these men one day. Really, any of us can. It’s all a matter of finding the right help, accessing it, and having the support of family and friends. This has been a victory for me in a time of so much worry about Michael’s other mental health issues which we are now looking into to. While opening his chocolate Santa candy for Advent each day, with the countdown to Christmas, Michael has also been doing another countdown. Yes, he wants his presents from Santa, but he also realizes he is lucky to be blessed by family to get those presents and wants to spread that love around. The message of helping your fellow human being has been heard loud and clear, and my little boy is doing it.
Exceptional Moms and Dads, how have your Exceptional Children overwhelmed and impressed you with their ability to help others while coping with their own issues? I’m sure there have been many such times. Remember, as a good friend recently told me, to hold on to these times. Our children are precious, beautiful future contributing members of society. And with the proper help and encouragement will flower to help those as they have been helped. Never stop believing in them and they will continue to amaze you. Until next time.