Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Parenting is a difficult journey in itself and special needs parenting is definitely a bigger challenge. We decided to become parents just like any other couple and had thought of learning on the job with trials and errors. This is what every parent does. But we were in for a surprise.
It's like buying a ticket to Frankfurt in Germany, but you tell me to get down at Paris in France!
It's a much more beautiful city, but just that It's not where I had decided to go. I wasn't prepared for Paris. The weather, the crowd were nothing like what I had thought.
I had grown up with this image of Frankfurt in my mind and was looking forward to it. Paris is entirely different, nothing like that I had in my dreams.
But as I spend time in Paris I realize that this city was made for me! It grows on me. And today Paris is mine and I would do anything to protect it!
As parents to a child with special needs, challenges were nothing new to us. So when the Pandemic came in, homeschooling, is a challenge we welcomed with open arms. How difficult could it be?
But we learnt a lot in this process. I'm going to cite quite a few examples here that I got from different mothers who are my friends and have a child/children with different special needs.
My son has Cerebral Palsy (CP) and traits of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To be fair, I must say it wasn't all that bad as I had expected. Since I had the luxury of having my mother around, and not having to work somewhere, I sat through every class with my son. My husband who was working from home would chip in for therapies always.
With the extra attention he started getting, my son started performing academically really well. He was really weak in Math but it became his strong suit!
The best thing I liked about this homeschooling journey was I got to spend so much time with my son. Every day 9 am to 4 pm we were together. We read together, made poems and I realized my kid can rhyme! I discovered he has an amazing sense of humor!
The only thing we missed was the socio-emotional learning aspect. We never cared for academics. We started school for our son so that he made friends, worked independently outside of home and figure out how he can function when his parents are not beside him. How he can ask for any help he needs. So, we were sad he's missing all of that. But like a lot of parents told me, when it comes to weighing our options and we have their safety on one side and emotional learning on the other, we'll definitely choose safety! Nothing's more important than keeping them alive!
But it wasn't this easy for everyone!
A friend of mine has a child who's speech and hearing impaired. She says her child has regressed extremely. She had to take classes herself to learn American Speech Language (ASL) to communicate and teach her child but felt helpless that she couldn't support her child in a lot of things. Another friend of mine is a mother to a child with autism. She had an absolutely different concern. Her child has high functioning autism and the child needs to be stimulated all day with different activities. She is a working mother, which made it all the more difficult for her. The child couldn't meet her friends which frustrated her. Having to use the laptop/I-pad to attend classes resulted in an increase in screen time which in turn resulted in sleeping difficulty.
You'd agree with me when I say, even if two children have the same diagnosis, each child is different. So it wasn't surprising that another friend of mine who is mother to a child with autism said "this is the best freaking thing that has ever happened after starting school!" Her child is non verbal and was facing a lot of difficulties in school. So this pandemic was a blessing in disguise for her.
I can't really sum up this piece stating this forced homeschooling was good or bad because just like their diagnosis, this was a dark cloud for some while some saw the silver lining! All I can say is I hope and pray that you get what you're looking for. All parents have stepped up in these tough times and special needs parents, you took it a notch higher! You're called special for a reason!