Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Having a special needs child.

Matthew is such a wonderful child and he makes us realize what the true meaning of family means. He has a quiet innocence and simple things make him happy. I speak from my heart and beam with pride when I talk of our son. I grew up in a family where I had 2 loving parents and 2 sisters I viewed as special in my life and we were loved and nurtured and encouraged so I know how important it is to do the same for our son. I am touched by the things my son does and the kindness he has in his heart. I learned Matthew was special right from the beginning and I have learned so much from him. He is an inspiration and he gives us hope.

I have seen the compassion my son shows to others and very much touched by it. Ever since he was a little boy he has displayed empathy towards other young children. On many occasions when we were out at the mall or supermarket or playground if Matthew saw a crying child or baby his immediate reaction was to comfort them and would tell them that it was ok and everything will be alright. He is such a caring child and he always tells me that when he grows up he wants to be a superhero. He wants to make all the hurt go away. He wants to comfort and help the needy and he wants to make our world a better place to live.

Such noble goals for such a young child. Matthew always seems years ahead of his actual age in how he reads and talks. People seem surprised that he is diagnosed as autistic because their first impression of him is that he is very mature for his age and he is very bright. I agree with their assessment but realize there are certain aspects of Matthew that are lacking and that do affect him and contribute to the difficulties he encounters.

In observing my son I realize he does not really understand the concept of how you should conduct yourself in social situations and the ideas of boundaries. It is important to be wary of others to some degree and not to be so trusting. Children are innocent and very impressionable and they need to be protected and shielded.

Given the concerns of society today it is very important that children are taught to be careful and to not be so easily led and trusting as they need to be skeptical and leary of people they don't know.

Another concern is developing good eating habits and having proper nutrition. Our son is a very fussy eater and barely finishes his food. When I was a young child my mom would always make a home cooked meal and we would eat everything on our plate. Maria has grown very frustrated because our son does not eat homecooked meals at all and she has tried many many times and has even asked her mom to try and help and she has encountered the same difficulty. Matthew's limited likes are pizza, chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and Mc Donald's pancakes. Our dinner hour is not anything like when I was a kid. We seem to have to please our son rather than having a sheduled meal. His choice for a meal seems to be spontaneous and must meet his approval. It is not the right situation and we are trying to introduce healthier foods to him. We are encouraged in that he does like various fruits like pineapple, mango and apples. My wife will make him a nice bowl of fruit after he has his dinner of choice. I also see that he does have some strange eating habits. When he eats his chicken nuggets he only eats around the edges and only likes the breading never really eating the nugget at all. The same thing with french fries, he only eats the end of the fries leaving the middle on his plate. We spoke to his doctor about it and we know that the medications he takes does lead to diminished appetite but our hands are tied because if he does not stay on the medication it could lead to worse problems.

Matthew also does not like to sleep and it is a constant struggle trying to get him to bed at a reasonable hour. We have to literally fight to get him to go to bed. I have researched how to reason with your child and my wife is more the disciplanarian than I but we both know we need to make our son know the importance of a good night sleep. We see it when he wakes up if he has had a late night. He is tired and it is hard getting him going. When we try to get him to sleep his typical response is that sleeping is boring and he wants to stay up. I personally do not understand why he fights sleeping so much and tried to find out possibly if he fears sleeping in some way. It is a battle at times but we realize our son has to know proper habits and has to follow a schedule and stick to it.

Raising a special needs child has its challenges but the rewards are so much more satisfying and when you connect with your child and see that they are happy and making progress than all the struggles certainly are worthwhile if it leads to seeing your child develop and mature and make the advances they need to succeed. The bottom line is that we will do our very best to bring out the best in our child and we also rely on others along the way.

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Please feel free to read my writings and leave a kind message or suggestion. Thank you. Emily