Today we welcome Adriane Taylor, Social Skills and Parent Coach. Adriane earned her B.S.Ed at The University of Georgia in Educational Psychology and her Master’s Degree from Georgia State University in Community Counseling. She has a genuine love for working with and supporting children in the area of social and behavioral skills, and she knows firsthand what it is like to be a parent of a child with special needs because her own daughter is deaf. Take it away, Adriane!
People ask me a lot of questions about my daughter, and I suspect it’s because they are wondering what it is like to raise a child who is “different.” I have been blessed with a child who is deaf, and although she speaks and hears – thanks to a cochlear implant – she still has many needs that overwhelm me on some days. But that’s okay, because I believe that she pushes and challenges me like I had never been challenged before she came along.
What I’d like for people to know – both those who ask questions, and those who are new to the special needs parenting world – is this: You learn to adjust to your situation, you don’t sweat the small stuff, and mostly you realize how thankful you are for the blessings your child has brought you. Following are a few things I have learned:
- Learn patience, patience, and more patience. My child never hit the major milestones when she was supposed to, but sooner or later she did it. I just needed to realize that she would do it in her own time, not mine, and I have found this to be true in everything she does.
- Quit comparing her to everyone else. I have to admit that there were days I would wish and pray she would be better at something than my best friend’s daughter who was the same age. It seemed everything came easier to her daughter, and my daughter would struggle just to keep up. But looking back, I see that my teenage girl handles disappointment better than many of her peers and is often better able to persevere through difficulties. Those early struggles made her emotionally stronger.
- Focus on the positives and don’t get caught up in the what-ifs. I’ll admit when I first found out about my daughter’s deafness, I went into a dark hole. The grief was terrible in the beginning, but I survived and realized how blessed I am to be her mom. On those days when the challenges seem to be never-ending, I focus on the joyful and free spirited girl she is, and revel in how amazing life is with her in it.
- Give myself a break. Sometimes we moms sacrifice ourselves for the good of the family. We take on more and more and exhaust ourselves with the thinking that we never do enough for our children. I had to learn that it was okay to focus on myself because otherwise I could not be the best I could be as a mom. It’s okay to go out and get that mani/pedi, go on a walk with your favorite music (not hers), and have some quiet time to gather your thoughts and just be. This mom job is not an easy one, no matter who you are, so be kind to yourself.
As I look back over this list I realize that most everything I’ve said is not only for parents with a child with special needs – it is really for all parents, because everyone is on his or her own special journey with his or her own special child. All parents deal with the ups and downs of parenting.
I believe God gave me a special gift to have a daughter who is deaf, but He gave me a smart, funny son who also has my heart and who gives me the same amount of worries. But don’t all children do that for us? This parenting journey is like a mountain hike – just when you think you have made it to the mountaintop, you find that there is still another hill to climb.
I say you might as well enjoy the scenery!