I was standing on a baseball diamond during one of his team’s practices and he was throwing a fit. In the middle of the field. Not a “normal” fit that you would likely see any other child his age throw. This was a fit filled with rage, impulsion, lack of reasoning, and oppositional defiance to the highest degree. And it was the type of fit that my wife and I had seen multiple times in our home. This time, however, it was in front of his entire team.
If you think this is not out of the ordinary for a 9-year old kid let me clarify something-
My son suffers from a disorder that is often overlooked and seldom understood by today’s culture- Alcohol-Related Neurological Disorder (ARND). I must note here (for the sake of people judging my wife) that my son is adopted. When he was in his birth-mother’s womb she made the tragic choice to consume alcohol. The result is brain damage that is irreversible. The side-effects are impulsion, lack of reasoning, poor behavior, strong emotional outbursts, oppositional defiance, sensory processing issues, specific dietary needs, ADHD, and delayed learning. A percentage of his behavior can be boiled down to choice, but a greater percentage is a derivative of this disorder.
Because of this, he is a child with special needs. He requires an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) at school. He also receives special services through local providers which has turned out to be a huge blessing.
He will never be a normal child as the world defines normal. And you know what, I’m okay with that.
However, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time where I wrestled with great frustration over the fact that he could not just participate in a football practice or a neighborhood activity without it turning into impulsion or acting out in poor behavior or bad choices.
I was burdened by the truth that he would never excel academically without special assistance. I would question why he couldn’t just reason and think normally, on his own, without us having to constantly be on him. And the emotional outbursts over tiny things were almost too much to handle (they still are, at times!).
No, he will never be normal. And, most likely, we will always be “hands on” with him throughout his life.
This is not an easy conclusion to come to. If you have a child with special needs you understand. You question, you lament, and you ask, “why me?” “Why him?” “Why her?” “God, why couldn’t I have just been given a normal child? Or a semi-normal child?” “What did I do to deserve this?”
If you’ve ever rung your hands at the sky and cried one of these statements out, I understand fully! I’ve been there many times. I’ve had more dark moments than light.
But I have found an element of peace in this- God never makes mistakes! My son is not a mistake. He is a gift from God. Is he special? You bet. He’s special because he is mine. He is special because he is unique. In truth, he is one of the most compassionate, loving kids I have ever seen or known. And when he is not throwing an emotional fit or doing something impulsive or fighting us tooth and nail over spelling homework, he is loving and kind and really stinking funny!
This is not easy. It never will be. And it’s hard to grasp and be at peace with. When you realize that your child will never be normal it’s incredibly difficult. I know. I can offer this- you’re not alone. My wife and I are right there with you. We understand. If nothing else, you can rest knowing that there are other parents of children with special needs who carry the same burden you do. There are others who wear the same scars. No, you’re not alone.
Do you have child with special needs? What has helped you through the tough times?