Friday, 28 October 2011

Special Saturday - How does having a child with additional needs affect your family?

The short answer?  In EVERY way!!!

Firstly the obvious ones...
Routine...EVERY day starts and finishes with routine!  Once Bear is up, every thing is done the same way.  No matter what stage the other kids are at in their getting ready they all fall in with his routine.  His end of the table gets cleared so he can have his breakfast.  Once he has eaten, whoever is in the shower gets out and whoever was hoping to hop in next waits until he has finished (or misses out completely)  The Geek is NOT allowed into the kitchen...unless we want another hole in the wall! 

There are routines throughout the day which mean that Bear often is allowed to have things that the other kids are not allowed to have...just to keep up the routine!  It means they often don't get to choose where they are going to sit or what they are going to watch on TV.  It means they can't always go across the road and ride their scooters on the shiny new bitumised path because Bear will follow them out and stand in the street.

The other kids are usually in bed before we go through the evening routine so it doesn't affect them quite so much.

For us it means we have to do things for our 11 year old that we no longer have to do for our 4 year old.  We have to wipe his bottom, (and believe me I'm grateful that that is all we have to do these days) and make all his meals...even if it's just toast or a sandwich, we have to supervise him almost constantly and ALWAYS be aware of where he is and what he is doing.

Holidays...Having a child with Autism affects Where we holiday, When we holiday, How we holiday and How long we holiday for.

It affects EVERY major decision we make, in fact the decision to start our own business was largely due to the fact that we need the flexibility to manage Bear.

Even decisions like whether or not to take out private health insurance are affected by Bear.  If we don't have private health insurance then when one of us needs surgery we have NO options, and we quickly discovered when Tiger needed his tonsils out that we NEED options, we NEED to be able to be involved in the decision making process with everything that might affect Bear.

I could go on and on...but I think you get the idea...having a child with additional needs affects our lives in EVERY conceivable way.

But it's not all bad!

Bear has TAUGHT us a good many things too.

He has taught all of us patience and compassion, patience, tolerance, patience, acceptance and did I mention patience?

Because not everything is fair all of the time, the kids have learned resilience...I could go right into why we believe that this is important, and perhaps one day I will but you can read a little bit about it here!

He has taught us that life doesn't always go the way we plan and we have all learned to roll with the punches!  And to function with a LOT of background noise!

I have learned to smile and nod when other people give their opinions...for the most part.

I've also learned to pick my battles.

If given a choice, if someone said to me, "You can have another baby but he/she is going to be autistic" I think I would probably run for the hills but I am 100% sure that EVERYONE living in The Zoo Train is a better person because we have shared our lives with Bear...perhaps with the exception of Grub...give him time :D

It's a process for all of us though.

I, for one, am still a work in progress!!!


  1. That is a wonderful post and perfect for Special Saturday this week. I love your writing style, it flows so effortlessly.

  2. Erin Thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful post for Special Saturday!!

    Here is a link for my post about my daughter's experience of being a sibling to a child with autism.

    Leah(also a work in progress!!)

  3. Thanks Jane, I often worry that I ramble a little too much but hey, that's who I am!

    Leah, thanks for having a read, I'm heading over right now to have a look at your post :D