I had ADHD before they even created an acronym for it. I think back then they called it something like “Go to your room!” and “You’re grounded!” or something similar since I heard that so often. My parents decided back then not to put me on the “street drug, speed” as it was pretty much known as back then. The medications to control behavior back then were extremely limited to I think one kind. So, I grew up coping with a lot of difficult behaviors that were even less misunderstood and criticized than they are now, which says a lot.
So, fast forwarding, heading towards almost twenty years after my son was born, not a whole lot has changed. Sure, there are plenty more accommodations that schools and the community deal with and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has opened a lot of doors for people with various disabilities to give them more independence and hope. However, I truly feel that not much has changed when it comes to public sentiment. In some cases, people can just be plain mean-spirited. Trying to exclude special-needs children or calling them names can still be found more often than not in the news. Medications are considered a bit more mainstream. However, the advice machine is still working overtime.
I am acutely aware that my child is doing poorly in the public school system. My son struggled horribly for years and it wasn’t until I waged (and won) an eight year, nightmarish battle with the public school system that I got him into a program specifically for children with his disabilities. He thrived, learned, grew and graduated with a diploma. My daughter just started middle school and the past two plus years have been nothing short of a repeat of what my son went through.
I’ve been asked several times why I “just don’t homeschool”. While I have a few friends who have thrived homeschooling their children (and I bow to their tenacity), it is not something that I can handle. My daughter has a learning disability in math (as do I) and extreme deficits in executive functioning, Autism, ADHD and a sensory processing disorder. Her IEP has special accommodations, specialized classes to address her needs, in-school counseling options and other thing sin place to help her succeed. I cannot offer that at home.
A lot of people may not realize just how lonely it is to parent a special needs child. For me, as a widow, I had for several years the task of doing everything myself. Just going out for an evening out or a date was a monumental feat that was exhausting and expensive. Now, I have a bit more freedom and a relationship, but I’m still lonely in some ways.
You can be surrounded by people but be lonely. Lonely for understanding, compassion, help and other needs that you find yourself devoid of quite often. Asking for help is humbling and sometimes frustrating. However, we continue on, knowing that we “have to be the strong one”. Well, sometimes I don’t want to be strong.
There are times when I fantasize about the life I may have had, but I don’t dwell there too long. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging your feelings, but I realize that you really can’t give up. Every time I see my son’s diploma or see my daughter’s face light up when she “gets” something she’s been struggling with, I know that there is hope and a real benefit of moving forward. There are days when I cry and days I can’t stop laughing. While I prefer the latter, I must recognize the former.
So yes, I HAVE considered that thing you just asked me and I do appreciate that you care enough to ask. What I really need is friendship, understanding and sometimes just an ear to listen and not criticize. Instead of condemning me for speaking out, allow me my outlet to vent and connect with others going through what I am. Instead of suggesting a solution, know that I am doing the best I can and offer to meet me for coffee. Have you ever considered that?