It’s January 1, 2014, and all across Cyber-World posts abound about the resolutions and goals that people have set for themselves, their children and/or their families. As always there are the generic ones like lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more. Then there’s the vague, idealistic ones like be a better mother or father, be more patient, understanding. There’s specific ones like play more with my child, read more to them. Then there’s material goals like get a new car, buy new living room furniture, or save for that Disney trip.
And then there’s the goals of those of us who live in a different world – the world of special needs. My goals do not resemble any of those that I’ve seen floating around Facebook, because your goals are different when you’re living a special needs life. Your goals are normally those that most others have either already attained, or will never have need to worry about attaining.
Your New Year’s resolution is to potty train your two year old? My goal is to have my daughter potty-trained by the time she’s four – and that’s day trained. I haven’t even begun to dream about night training.
I dream about having my daughter who has insomnia, able to sleep through the night by the end of 2014, consistently going to sleep each night without the help of medication.
Our New Year will be kicked off with visits to a pediatric dental specialist, as they attempt to fix her numerous dental issues. At three and a half, she already has multiple teeth with decay, cavities and other issues, and will more than likely require oral surgery in the hospital under full anesthesia for repair.
Our goal is to continue to work on her receptive language skills and use/understanding of social pragmatics. I would love to be able to call my daughter a pet name like “Princess”, or use a term of endearment like “Cutie” or “Sweetie”, without her correcting me, or even getting angry at me.
For our son, one of our goals is to improve on his sensory diet, and to be more disciplined in implementing it with regularity. I admit that we get slack sometimes, and then the entire family suffers.
We have a goal of working on our son’s food anxiety, and that hopefully by the end of the year we will be able to introduce new food to him, without him crying, shaking in fear, screaming, or yelling at us that he hates it. We also hope that by the end of the year he will be able to chew and swallow all meats.
I personally want to learn to relax when my son walks funny due to his sensory needs, or when he’s having vocal tics and making a strange noise. I want to learn to stop worrying about how he looks to others, and just accept him for the beautifully loving boy that he is.
I want to get through 2014 without any more specialist appointments (aside from the dentist of course) and tests like EKGs, EEGs, and any other abbreviations.
And lest we forget the materialistic goals, I want to save money for an indoor trampoline, an indoor trapeze bar, and a few other sensory items that I’m too tired to even think of right now.
Does it seem as though the world of special needs parents and the world of parents of healthy, neurotypical children are miles apart? Perhaps sometimes, and when I started writing this, it felt like they were. Seeing all those “normal” goals and resolutions was a bit, depressing?
But I realize, at the end of the day, our goals and resolutions for the New Year, really aren’t that different after all – for we all hope to be a better parent, we all wish for health and happiness for our children, and we all want see improvement in areas that may be a struggle in our child’s life. That knowledge makes our “abnormal” goals, feel a lot more “normal” after all.