I am a mother who wears her heart on her sleeve, is very self conscious, and has always worried about what others are thinking about me or my children. Having a child with autism (or any special health care need) you eventually realize you are not going to be able to go unnoticed for too long.
With autism, we have the ever-popular tantrums/meltdowns/fits. To this day, I still hold my breath when taking my 14 year old into a public place where there is a chance of all heck breaking loose and everyone staring at me for having that one child who is DIFFERENT. I have come to realize that my son, Jackson, has no clue that he might not be like everyone else.
His new favorite thing is dancing and copying dance moves while listening to mom's cell phone in doctor's offices.
To make things more exciting, he is also into wearing different costumes or hats from day to day. Yesterday we were Vikings and he wore his hat with the horns sticking out of the sides––all while dancing to a new Bruno Mars song. Today he wore his Harry Potter robe and danced to Michael Jackson.
How many times have you heard the expression, "Dance like no one is watching?" That is exactly what Jac does, and yes, we get stares. But we also get smiles. And secretly, I would like to just be able to let loose, jump out of that doctor's office waiting room chair, and start dancing with him, with no worries in the world.
I always tell people that the things that my son has taught me are things that no education could have ever prepared me for. No book entitled, What to Expect When you are Expecting could have prepared me for what I have learned while raising a child with special health care needs, because let's face it, we learn as we go.
Fourteen years later and I am a better person for not being so sensitive to every stare. I think many times people just want to know what it is that makes Jac act like Jac. I can truly say, bring on the music, bring on the dance moves, and yes, bring on the Viking hats. It is perfectly okay to be different. It makes you smile a little more in the middle of doing some dance moves––even in the middle of the doctor's office!!
Check out Navigating Daily Life – Parenting Children with Disabilities on this website for more tips on parenting a child with disabilities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.