If you take the time to watch this video; you will understand the title of this blog post. Often, if we will just remove the limitations that others put on our special needs loved ones abilities; we will see them bloom and grow. How much of the world is kept from a special needs person because someone else thinks that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be capable of more. I love this video because it is a reminder that we all need room to spread out our wings just to see where we can go! Encourage them to explore their skills and talents; or, to pursue their interests … and never underestimate a special needs persons ability to achieve.
Ok, I know in practical terms…teaching independent living skills along the way while raising children is just common sense. However, as one of my children is approaching his last year in high school…it feels like I have an egg timer alongside of each day.
My son is a senior in high school. There is not much time left to teach him some really important lessons. Where we live, in a rural setting, there is not some great program available to him to continue educating him after graduation. In Michigan, if my son goes for his diploma at the end of the year; as opposed to a certificate of completion…his educational opportunities as a special ed student come to an end. If he wanted to continue in the school system, he could choose a certificate of completion…but, the only available program for him is a daily living skills program. While that is a valuable tool, it doesn’t in my opinion outweigh the benefits of going for the diploma.
Because we live in a rural area….there is not much opportunity for employment, in general, let alone if you have special needs that can hinder your employability.
The things that are important to my son at this stage of his life…are dual edged. He wants to drive a car. He wants to hunt. He wants freedom to make his own choices. He wants to work. There is nothing wrong with wanting those things…but in some cases, those very things are difficult to achieve or not in that person’s best interest.
My son’s abilities are limited because of several factors. He reads at a first grade level…and that, is with difficulty. He has problems with assessing safety situations. He is wanting to work…but sometimes, has trouble staying on task and focussed. These issues are going to limit his ability to hunt, to drive, to live on his own without some sort of safety backup plan.
Our plan is to work with him on planning meals and grocery shopping; he also likes to hoard food and eat it almost as soon as it is purchased That won’t be condusive to living on his own if he cannot somehow understand the concept of planning and executing a plan for purchasing and divying up the food purchases to make up meals for a set number of days at a time. He will have to show more care with personal hygene; it isn’t high on his list to change his dirty clothing when going away…he just doesn’t think about it. He will need to learn to think ahead for those situations.
We are wracking our brains trying to come up with some type of job that he is able to do and excited about doing. Many of the types of jobs he wants are not realistic. We have enrolled him in an class that will be working towards teaching him an employable skill. I think he will take pride in this; if he continues to enjoy it once he gets into the curriculum.
Housing, we are blessed that we were able to plan ahead for this years ago. We purchased a house next door to us years ago with the intention of using it for independent living skills for our boys as they became ready. This will allow close supervision but also allow for them to feel independent and “free” to be a grown up.
This year will hold many surprises and advancements. It is an exciting and scary time for him and for us. We all have a lot to learn as we transition to adulthood together! Here is a great link of things to consider when easing into independent living: http://www.teachersfirst.com/sped/parents/transition/eric-lifeskills.html
My husband and I are the proud parents of six adopted children. We have 3 girls and 3 boys. Each person has their own gifts and blessings. Some of those children are special needs children; and some are not. We have children with special needs issues ranging from bi-polarism, to ADHD, to learning disabilities, to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, some have behavior related issues. One is homeschooled, one is in special education classes, one should have been, and some have benefitted from regular educational services. Some are adults living their own lives very successfully. Others struggle in some areas of day- to- day activities. A couple have to be supervised or encouraged every waking moment of the day to help keep them focussed on being the best person that they can be. They are all loved, supported and have brought much to our family.
Each person has their abilities and their challenges. None of them did anything to deserve the life they were born into; they had no control over the very beginning of their life. Yet, each of them must strive to have a loving, healthy, productive and happy life. It is possible. Some adaptations may be required for some of my children to have an independent life; but, it is possible. Since it IS possible, we will do whatever we can do to help make that happen.
Adoption is a complex thing. It serves many purposes and yet…it has an ability to wound, to heal, to lift up, to destroy, to save lives, and to shuffle lives. There are always imprints of a life that was supposed to be; melded into the life that is gifted and aborbed into another family. There are moments of: celebration, sadness, regrets, and purposeful choices; adoption is a wonderfully, painful mixture of the emotional buffet of life! It is a parent’s responsibility to seek excellence for the quality of life for their children.
Our family is special and unique; I bet your family is too! We have had many successes as a family; as well as, some twists and turns that were unexpected. The dream of a new parent doesn’t usually include the expectation that things could turn out differently from the dream of a picture perfect family. A birth family or an adopted family does not get to choose from an ‘ala carte menu, of challenges it may or may not face. As most parents would say, we live and breath for our children; and yet, we are not ashamed to say at times…we wonder…did we do the right thing? Our children didn’t get a choice in life in which family they would grow up in. There are shades of grey for each person…balancing the pros and cons of adoption.
Whether a child is brought into a family by birthing it into the family, or by adoption…the child is received with awe, with excitement, and with hope for a beautiful future. There are unexpected situations at times regarding health issues, behavioral issues, attachment issues, emotional issues and even loyalty issues. Those things and more can affect the foundation of a family.
Many families are jolted to learn that their child has special needs or that their adopted child has issues that will affect them and their family for years to come. It is a difficult time for parents and other siblings to struggle to learn about the issues facing the family…because…none of us go it alone.
Family is a support system all unto itself…but, sometimes the issues can seem overwhelming. That is the time that families need to reach beyond their boundaries that are self imposed, because many do not understand what we face as families with challenges. Don’t let that stop you from reaching out. You just might be surprised by the impact that you could have on another…or vice versa.
Really, for many people going through the shattered reality that their family is not following the dream of perfect completion…there is a sense of isolation and a perceived lack of understanding from others who have not walked in the same pair of shoes.
So, is there a need for support and information for families who have experiences that can mirror each other? Is there a wealth of understanding that is untapped because we have not had the opportunity to join forces and absorb techniques and encouragement from one another? I think there is. I have heard so many comments that would break your heart. Families that are under so much strain that they threaten to break and disintegrate under the pressure. If one person or family can benefit from sharing and encouraging each other here; then, the blog will have served it purpose.
Do you know someone who has things to share? Do you know someone who could benefit from a little support or information? Do you know someone who is facing a future with a special needs child and is struggling? Do you know someone with rose colored glasses that is thinking about adoption; but, isn’t willing to accept anything less than perfection? Bring them to a place that will enlighten them, encourage them, and embrace them! Families should be celebrated and enjoyed…not everyone is blessed with people to share their love with.