Jamie greets every morning with a smile, out of bed when the alarm sounds. With coffee in hand she takes the dog out for a walk, enjoying the birds chattering in the trees above. The sun is shining and Jamie is ready to tackle her ‘To Do’ list, prepared the night before. Then, reality strikes.
Picture the morning routine of Jamie with an elementary and middle school student, both boys, and throw in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ADHD/ODD) in the middle schooler. Jamie hangs onto her smile through the 45 minutes it takes to get both ready and out the door. She keeps smiling when the middle school son starts screaming it is her fault his homework is not finished and slams out of the house in a huff to catch the bus.
Parenting is difficult under any circumstance; but, when you add in a child with a disability, parenting becomes more challenging. You experience stages of grief – shock & denial, anger, guilt, hopelessness, depression, acceptance, and finally – Hope. Parenting is a long, winding, never-ending road. Parenting a disabled child is no different. There are doctor visits (you and the doctor are on a first name basis), constant medication changes, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), meetings with counselors, teachers, social workers, the list seems endless. The entire family is affected, and the emotional needs of the entire family will forever be changed.
Hope remains alive however. Those initial hopes and dreams you had for your child the day he or she was born are still there, still viable, still attainable. There will just be a few more bends in the road, a few more curve balls to dodge, but rest assured, your intelligent, funny, adorable child will eventually reach out and take those hopes and dreams of yours and make them a reality.
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