Oftentimes people assume that having a child diagnosed with autism would be extremely difficult. While there are some difficulties in raising a son who struggles with autism, there are also many things I’m thankful for. Homeschooling special needs children offer the perfect opportunity for gratitude.
Raising any child has its challenges, of course.
Which is one of the main things I remind myself of when I’m having a bad day. The challenges are just different, depending on the uniqueness of the child. So, if I had a child that was “typical” then I might be worrying about some of the things listed below. But I’m not! 🙂
I don’t have to worry about my son getting involved in hardcore music.
My son is 14 years old. At this age, many kids start listening to rock music.
Well, Nathan doesn’t care for any music, partly because of sensory difficulties. He especially doesn’t like rock music—even Christian rock, such as Skillet. In fact, one time a song by Skillet came on the radio while in the car, and he was all, “Turn that off! That’s sounds awful!”
Reminds me of my mom coming home when I was a teenager … LOL
When I was a teenager in the 1980s, I started listening to punk rock, new wave, and other not so nice music. If you’ve ever read the lyrics from secular rock music, you know what I’m talking about. And I honestly believe the music I got involved with contributed to my rebellion.
By the way, one of the ways that I stay in a more positive mood is to listen to my favorite Christian music while at the gym. In fact, this has been a great motivator to go to the gym!
Let me explain. So, Nathan basically hates and doesn’t tolerate music around him. Thus, I have gotten to the point where I actually look forward to going to the gym so that I can listen to my favorite music–and then I even get a workout out of it. So, not only does the music help me to re-focus on Jesus. But I am much calmer when I get home. PLUS I feel so much better about myself because I know that I did something positive for my health.
You would be AMAZED at how this can boost your mood and help you to be more thankful!
Now we are all different with unique likes and dislikes. So, my suggestion to you is to find something that you really love to do and that puts you in a better mood–and take time to do it!!!
I don’t have to worry about what types of friends he has.
As a child with autism, Nathan is even pickier than I would be about the friends he chooses. In fact, he’s picky about who he will even talk to.
I don’t have to worry about him walking off with a stranger.
He’s extra cautious about strangers. Again, you can hardly get him to talk to someone he knows. So, there is NO way he’s going to willingly go with a stranger anywhere. In fact, when he started ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, it took two months before he would even get in the therapist’s car without mom or dad present.
Plus, he has absolutely no desire to chat with strangers online or chat with anyone for that matter. So, I don’t have to worry about him being lured on the internet, either.
Yes, he has been educated on the dangers.
He’s content with what he has.
Nathan has one main pair of shoes he wears, and he will wear his old clothes until they’re so snug, I’m embarrassed for him. In fact, I usually have to talk him into getting a new pair of shoes, and it’s always my idea when it’s time to get new clothes. He never thinks he needs new clothes. I can honestly say that Nathan has not ever asked for a new outfit or a new pair of shoes.
Also, Nathan usually only has one or two items he wants at a time (even at Christmas), and he has never acted like he wished he hadn’t chosen that item. In other words, he’s not greedy and he is careful about choosing before buying. I could learn a thing or two from him! And so could all of us learn gratitude as we are homeschooling special needs children.
A recent example of how he’s not greedy was on his birthday last May. His grandma was planning what to buy him for his birthday. The item he chose was less expensive than what she was willing to spend. So, she asked him if he’d like to have more Bendaroos. He uses these all of the time, since he was a little tyke. When I asked him if he needed more Bendaroo, he said, “No.”
By the way, if you struggle with being thankful, you most definitely are NOT alone.
Homeschooling special needs children can be really hard at times.
And I am most certainly NOT the perfect example of positivity and thankfulness! However, one of the things that helps me immensely to stay focused, or to re-focus, on things I am thankful for is a devotional I do in the morning.
You may be familiar with the free YouVersion Bible App!
Before I was homeschooling a special needs child, it seemed that I could always find time and energy for Bible study. Well, the past few years, I have found it much harder to stay focused on a lengthy Bible study first thing in the morning. The YouVersion Bible App has been SUCH a blessing during these times!
For example, you can choose to just listen to the Bible read aloud to you—and most versions are available. It took me a while to find a voice I could enjoy. But there are lots of choices!
Also, there are pre-written devotionals, hundreds of them, that last anywhere from 2 days to 30 days. You can choose whatever topic seems to fit your needs. I am currently going through “Different” A study of 1 Peter. Of course, there are tons of plans on the simple topic of thankfulness or being thankful.
There is just something about sharing God’s love with others that also helps us to stay in a positive mood and be more thankful!
By the way, the app is absolutely free and is available for Android, iPhone, iPad, and pretty much every device you can imagine.
There is even an App for Kids to help teach your kids to be thankful.
The thing I like the most about this Bible app, besides that it’s free, is that I can always find time to be in God’s word, even when I’m feeling seriously pressed for time.
He’s a Cheap Date!
Most of the time, Nathan doesn’t even want to eat out. And when he does, he always chooses small portion sizes. For example, if he goes to McDonald’s he just orders the six piece nuggets.
When he’s trying to figure out how to do something at home, he uses whatever things he can find at home. Occasionally he will request something to buy.
For example, he’ll print stuff off the internet, cut and paste to decorate his trains, use whatever pencils or pens are around the house. And speaking of Bendaroos. He will reuse his Bendaroos even when they are the wrong color (if he runs out of a particular color, for example).
I’m sure I could think of lots more things to be thankful for besides these six reasons I’m thankful for autism or homeschooling special needs children. But for now I will close with this:
When we struggle with our attitudes and moods, God is always there waiting to encourage us.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9-10
Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:10b
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26: 3-4
No matter what individual struggles our kiddos have, there is always something to be thankful for!
Read more from Homeschooling Dietitian Mom here: Does Food Affect Autism?
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Deborah Hanyon has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for nearly 20 years. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Foods and Nutrition from CSU, San Bernardino in 1996, and her MPH from Loma Linda University in 1999.
Debbie attended the Institute for Creation Research, studying Graduate-level Biology. She worked for several years for the Women, Infant and Children Program in San Bernardino, California. Deborah tutored at-risk and special education youth for several years in California, and also has experience working with the elderly in long-term care. She is an American Council on Fitness (ACE) Certified Health Coach.
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