Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Little Known Benefits

It should go without saying that parenting a disabled child has more than its fair share of challenges. But, what I don't think a lot of people realize is that there are some advantages to it.  Below I've highlighted a few of the little known advantages of parenting a disabled child as compared to a "typical" child.  It's a tongue-in-cheek description and strictly from my own perspective as Aidan's mom.  To fully understand and get the humor of this, it helps to know that:  Aidan has very little volitional movement; he needs complete support and assistance with any and all movement; and he is completely non-verbal but does make vocalizations.

The Good Stuff
  • I could leave Aidan in one spot, turn my back and he would still be exactly where I left him.  Contrary to my experience with Connor, whereby at about 5 months old I had set him down on the futon, turned my back to set up the spot for the bath, and he had rolled off the futon already in a matter of 5 seconds?!  Oops, I didn't know he could roll that fast?!  Aidan at age 8, still can't independently rollover.
  • Aidan doesn't talk back to me and won't repeat expletives that I might have accidentally let slip.  Connor, on the other hand, often argues with me, whines, complains, and negotiates his way.  It's a proud parent moment when you hear your 5 year old say, "Oh sh*t! I left my Obi-Wan action figure at Thomas's house!"  And I'm not even the potty mouth of the family?!
  • I've developed an acute sense of hearing as Aidan's mom.  He rarely sleeps solidly through the night so, I've become accustomed to being awakened at least once every night.  This could be because of my heightened sense of hearing that I've developed.  While sleeping, I could hear Aidan cough from across the hall and be awakened.  His low pitched yelps and cries make me leap out of bed.  Contrast that to Kevin, who couldn't be woken up with a screaming crying baby hollering into his ear.
  • I've developed a muscular figure now.  You can't help but build muscle from the constant lifting and carrying him.  Fortunately, I was a tomboy growing up and am fairly athletic so I consider myself physically strong.  But, being Aidan's mom has sort of forced me to take better care of myself and my body, knowing that I've got to physically care for him for a long time.
  • I've learned more about medical care and medicine, I could practically be an M.D.  Aidan requires different medications, mostly to alleviate his very stiff muscles and for his gastrointestinal system.  Fortunately (or maybe not?), Aidan is fed by g-tube which feeds directly into the stomach, thus this is how all his medications are given.  This is so much easier than trying to feed them into his mouth.  All parents know how difficult it can be to feed their "typical" children medicine, especially if it tastes bad.  You have to pull out all the trickery and plead, bribe, and sometimes use the old fashioned pin-them-down-and-pinch-the-nose trick too.  Although, I really am far from knowing enough about medicine.  But, what I do have is my specialized doctorate degree, magna cum laude, in my study of Aidan.
Often times, I get the sympathetic and pitiful "It must be hard [to care for him]" look from strangers. When sometimes I think they really have no idea, that in many ways, parenting Connor is often as challenging, and sometimes more challenging than parenting Aidan.

*Certain names have been changed to protect individuals' privacy.

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