Learning to Persevere in the Face of Special Needs ChallengesDecember 8, 2020
It’s Wednesday morning and my child is in tears… and so am I. My child is six years old and I am trying to get him to recite the alphabet with no luck. I try verbally and in writing and it is just not happening. I know he is smart enough to do this, but his brain just won’t process this simple task. What do I do?
First, I know I have to step back and regain control of my emotions. Then I give him a break and completely stop the task. I have a choice here. Do I continue or just let it go? For my child, I have to let it go. He isn’t capable to do this task in a normal way. I have to make sure he always has the alphabet in front of him for him to see it. Is this really a problem? At that moment I thought it was. I was measuring his success by the rest of the world’s standards and for my son, that just doesn’t work.
I also was feeling like a failure as a mom and teacher. So I had to step back and re-evaluate the whole situation. I had to think differently and let a lot of things go. I had to do this many times over the years and sometimes several times a day until I got a better understanding of how my son learns and what he can do. With time and patience, it gets easier and more rewarding as you see your child succeed in accomplishing different goals.
Your Homeschool Efforts are Worth It!
I want to encourage all you parents who home school children with special needs, whether learning disabilities and/or physical issues. You are doing a great job! Even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment know you are. I know that there are many challenges that you are facing. I have been there and through perseverance seen the end result. I have successfully graduated a special needs child and he is following his dreams at his own speed.
It takes patience, nerves of steel, and lots of love to home school a special needs child. But you have those skills in you. You are your child’s best advocate and teacher. Who better to know the strengths and weaknesses of your child. Who better to know what your child is capable of and push them to go farther? Who better to know when they need a break or a change and be able to accommodate those needs? You, their parent. This is the mindset you need to have every day. I am my child’s best. When you live this it changes how you view homeschooling. You have a mission. A mission to figure out and implement the best ways for your child to learn and grow.
Struggles Make You Stronger
You can do this! And you and your child will both be stronger because of this journey you are taking. My relationship with my son has had many ups and down and successes and failures. There has been tears, raised voices, apologies from me, celebrations, and lots of hugs. Yet, because I kept the course he is living out his dreams as an adult.
I have learned many things on this journey. The biggest one is that I need to let the worldly standards go. My son will not be able to do many things that the school system deems important. As homeschoolers we don’t need to follow those standards, we can develop our own that will allow our child to succeed in their own way. You get to think outside the box and by teaching a child to think outside the box they learn how to solve problems their own special way. Make it up as you go, be flexible, and make it fun. What works one week may not work another week so learn to adapt and go with your child’s flow.
Lots of Love Wins the Day
I also learned that there needs to be lots of love and laughter, especially to offset the tears and frustration. It is a joy to have this child always remember this. Celebrate the smallest accomplishments as well as the big ones. Keep track of the accomplishments so that on hard days you can look back and see how far your child has come.
Have fun and enjoy your child. They are special for a reason. Their way of seeing the world can be refreshing. Celebrate their specialness, it is what makes them who they are. Encourage them to be the best they can be in spite of the challenges they face. Tell your child often how proud of them you are. Talk about the challenges and how that is impacting them. Many times my son would ask why me? I would tell him God made him this way for a reason and God never makes mistakes. He is perfect in my eyes and God’s eyes. Then we would talk about how his life is impacting those around him and how he has overcome so much.
Don’t Ever Give Up
Don’t ever give up, what you are doing is vital to the success your child will have later on in life. Stay the course no matter how stormy it is. Ask for help, you don’t need to do this alone. Find others around you that will encourage you. As you persevere in your journey, it will get easier. The challenges may get harder, but you will know how to navigate those new challenges. You will even enjoy dealing with the challenges and seeing them overcome. You can do this and do this well!
More About the Author
My name is Kimberly Smith and I have been homeschooling for over 16 years. I have been married for 25 years, have four children ages 6, 18, 20, 22, and currently live in Central Pennsylvania. I have a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and am certified with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. My three oldest have graduated from homeschooling and are currently in college or doing online learning. I am starting the journey of homeschooling again with my six-year old.