By: Dr. Michelle Saltarrelli, AuD, CCC, A/SLP
This is beyond the financial, emotional, and physical stresses that parents have when raising a child with special needs (SN). This is actually my own personal struggle, but I see others struggle with this too at my practice. I often joke with other parents of children with SN. I tell them they should come to my house and talk with my husband, Wes Murdock! I am always happy to share his wisdom. That man has read more parenting books than I have.
So as a parent one of our several responsibilities is to teach our children to navigate life independently. One day (we are all praying) they will become contributing members within our society. When you have a child with SN we still desire the same for our children. In business and raising children, I shoot for the stars!!! No harm in it right? Let’s see how far they will go!! (How Far I’ll Go Song by Auli’I Cravalho from Moana playing in background)
My challenge is that I tend to do everything for my son with SN. To the point that I didn’t even notice that I did it!!! My husband had to point this out to me actually. With this graceful, sanitary question, “Do you still wipe his behind, Michelle?” “Of course not! He’s 13, he doesn’t even like to walk around with his shirt off. I don’t do EVERYTHING for him!” I retorted surprised he even asked me the question. However, when I started to notice myself and all that I did for my son, I too was surprised he didn’t call me upstairs to the bathroom for the number 2 clean-up job!! I had those damn rose colored/ shaded glasses on again. OMG, change was needed!!
When I ask my son with SN to do something, he will do it, but he’s perfectly fine with me doing everything for him. My other sons have this innate drive for independence. Not my guy with SN! So unfair!! So, if I don’t watch myself, I just naturally do it for him. Instead, I should take a step (or several steps as he gets older) back and allow him to order food for himself, figure out the solutions, figure out locations of household items, etc….. Essentially, allow my son to figure out the basics of life!!! I was just providing him with the answer each and every time. In no way was I helping him or teaching. I was only enabling him to be dependent on someone else. I had no idea I was doing this until my husband pointed it out. Awareness is key! Willingness to learn and quickly adapt enables change. I had to change!!!!
Thank you, Wes for asking me if I still wipe his behind. Profound question!