Growing Up Special

Parents of Special Needs and Adopted Children Seeking Excellence

Posts Tagged ‘expectations’

Feb
02

Unchartered Territory-Special Needs Adulthood

By Rainy on February 2nd, 2010

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With a young adult special needs person, one would think that a parent had navigated most of those unchartered areas of life that come with unplanned challenges.   Not so!  In fact, once graduation takes place there are all kinds of other challenges that one did not make arrangements for that must be addressed such as living arrangements, supervision and either further educational opportunities or employment when possible.   Keeping an active social life for the young adult is important for their well-being and yours.  Don’t let their world narrow down to just the four walls of your home. 

That is a difficulty for some parents; some social situations are difficult.  Depending on the young person’s abilities the options are open to whatever decision the parents and the young person see as being a possibility.  Take advantage of every opportunity that you can to widen their circle of interaction.  You never know where that may lead regarding contacts, volunteer situations, or even eventual employment that they may find fulfilling.

In this time of financial cutbacks and downsizings, finding funding for either additional schooling when possible; or, for a place of employment to take on a person with special needs is becoming harder to find.    Employers have had to cut back on the number of employees and hiring a special needs person may not fit their needs.   For those who are in a rural setting, it is even more difficult.   There are less employment situations.  Check with your friends, your co-workers, even with members of a church or an organization that you may belong to.   Some counties have specially trained job coaches available to work with a special needs individual to find a job that fits them and their abilities.

Finding an agency or organization that is versed in this area of help is beneficial, if you can find one.    In the meantime, dealing with the young person’s expectations of instantly getting a job can be very discouraging.  Filling up the day with activities and opportunities that keep them engaged and being productive is important.

Don’t fall into the trap of allowing them to sit in front of the television, computer or computerized gaming systems just to occupy them.  Let them dream of something bigger and better, help them to achieve what is their highest level of functioning.   It may be unchartered territory…but it doesn’t mean you have to stay adrift on the ocean with no goals or plans in site.  Their quality of life is greatly improved when goals are set and met; the individual has expectations of how life should be, help them achieve their personal best.

Sep
30

What’s Your Family’s Story?

By Rainy on September 30th, 2008

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        Every family is made up of individuals with wants and needs.  Every family is different.  Add a person…take away a person; and, it changes the family dynamics.  Add a need, or take away a need; and again…the whole composition of the family changes.  This is to be expected in the life of every family. 

         Families that are created out of adoption have a multitude of blessings and challenges.  The same can be said of families that have special needs children…whether they are born into the family or adopted.  The term family falls under an umbrella of accomodations; each person’s wants and needs are accomodated into the family unit (or should be).  Your place in the family is guaranteed out of love, acceptance, encouragement and the occasional nudging towards further personal growth.  A healthy family is designed to be a personal support system. 

         My own family has both adopted children and special needs children.  We have blessings and challenges like any other family.   Those blessings and challenges aren’t JUST related to being a family created from adoption, or of special needs; it is sometimes a mixture of both. 

         I grew up in a large family and my husband did as well.  We are used to understanding that each person is unique.  Each person is an individual, as well as, part of a family unit.  Often in my sibling group we had wants and needs that conflicted with one another…my husband’s family as well.  We had to work out any differences between family member’s expectations.  My husband’s family was impacted by some special needs, my family was not.  Neither of our families were impacted by adoption.   And yet, because we came from large families…some would consider our families to be special needs just because of the number of children.   Each person in a family impacts another; that is typical of any family that consists of more than one person.  There is no such thing as a “normal” family!  :)

          We are blessed with creative thinkers, business minded or logical thinkers, nurturers, artistic individuals, readers, non-readers, free thinkers, outgoing personalities, highly verbal personalities (how come i didn’t get any quiet personality childen?) LOL, musical, non-musical, conformists and non-conformists, high IQ-low IQ, flexible and non-flexible personalities; you get the idea.  We are a creative mix of likes and dislikes.  It is a balancing act at times trying to meet everyone’s needs.  But, it is done because we want to; we desire to recognize each person’s requirements to be successful, to be healthy and happy. 

           Each family has a story; it has a beginning, a middle and an end.  Everyday we are writing new pages to add to the story.  Those stories are of interest to others because we can learn from one another.  We can share in the laughter, the confusion, the joy, the sorrow, the sense of betrayal or anger that fills a family with a lifetime of experiences.  The stories of your family can mingle with other family stories to create a sense of encouragement,failure, discouragement, success, education, or compassion. Experiences can draw people together or set them apart. 

            Isolation is sometimes a part of family life when you are raising adopted children or special needs children; just because of the lack of understanding; or, perceived lack of understanding, of those in your social circles or community.  It is very important to find support in those times of feeling isolated by behavior difficulties or by circumstances.  

           We must learn to live in the moment…not be defined by labels or expectations.  Each day, each moment is open to interpetation.  We can stop, we can reread, we can change directions and we can grow and learn.  Sometimes people get a label and try to skip all of the chapters in between the beginning and the end…they just want to go to the end of the book and see how the story turns out.  It is in the daily living…getting the most out of each and every moment that we are given to live, that we find fulfillment and joy. 

          So, what’s your family’s story?  How was your family created?  Is your family life the way you expected it to be?  If yes, why?  If not why?  What would you change if you could?  Can you change it?  Can you change how you think about it?  What impact does your family have on each other; what impact does your family have on others around you?  What does family mean to you?  What do you love about your family?

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