Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dry spell

Howdy folks,

It seems I've hit a dry spell. It's been almost 10 months that I've hardly posted anything. I've been wracking my brain for things to say. It's not that I don't have fodder in my life. I do, for sure. I just feel uninspired to write. The thing I've been struggling with most lately is the fact that most of my friends, in the past year, have either moved away or gotten pregnant/had babies. I am left with 2 friends who will not be having babies, although one of those will probably move away in the future. Though that may be a good thing because I find more and more she's not someone I enjoy spending a lot of time with. So that leaves my social life kind of a solo act these days, which sucks.

I've been ruminating a lot lately about finding that balance between accepting my neuroticism, and making myself not too scary to others. Still looking. I've also been ruminating about adopting a kid. It's been on the burner for a while, but it's just not an option, financially, at the moment.

I read a comment from someone saying they are reading this and other blogs because their nephew has a disability. I think that's great. It's so important to be informed and start to think about what this person may need for the rest of their life. I think people, for the most part, see people with disabilities differently than they did when I was growing up. And I think the change is for the better. Schools seem to make more effort to integrate people with disabilities into regular classrooms, rather than assuming they all need special education. And there are less physical barriers at school, though of course many still exist. Most schools seem to have wheelchair access now, as opposed to a chosen few.

I think, equally important, is to treat that person as "normal" as possible, without being TOO strict about it. For example, I used to work in an environment that had a lot of disabled children. The parents would often tell me that they know they "should" be letting their children do more things on their own (dress and push themselves), but it often took longer and they just wanted to get things done quicker so they could leave the house on time, etc. In my opinion, this is a HUGE, HUGE problem! I saw so much of myself in these kids, although I had a mother who tried to force me to be more independent than perhaps I should have, which was the opposite extreme. I saw teenagers who were urine-soaked, unkempt, generally unclean. I saw kids who were spoiled, whose parents hovered over them to overcompensate for the fact their child had no friends or "less opportunities". Kids whose social skills were less than par.

I don't have the magic answer to anything really. But I think if parents of disabled children can remain aware that their child is the same as all other children, yet different. They will have talents and abilities that others don't have, no matter what they may be. Feed that, but not to an unrealistic proportion. If I brought a drawing home when I was a kid, my dad would praise me for it, no matter if it were just a straight line in black and put it on the fridge. My mom would praise me if it were really good and put it on the fridge, otherwise would say thanks and it woudl end up in a drawer. There has to be a happy medium there somewhere. All kids need to feel self worth, and they only get this by people being genuine to them. If family treats them differently than that, for better or worse, spoiling and overpraising, or neglecting or over-criticizing, then the self-worth is in danger of running amok.

To all you parents of children with disabilities: Good luck! You've got a tough job ahead of you. But rest assured that, no matter what you do, how fair and supportive, and equal you try to be, it's a constant process of trial and error. But there are so many resources out there now for info and support, which didn't exist as abundantly in the past. Use them. Learn. And keep going.

1 comment:

Blake said...

I think you have done a great job in expressing the need for parents to be balanced. Seeing older kids (even fellow college students) have underdeveloped social skills because of their parents saddens me. The same is true of kids who don't get to live life because of restrictions put on them by their parents.

I may write on this topic and throw in an excerpt from this post if it's OK (linking back of course). Great job, thanks.