Being a caretaker of a special needs child is a very tough and all-encompassing job, that can at times, seem downright thankless.
As we factor in all that needs to be done, it can become quite a production! Besides doctors appointments and therapy appointments, there is bathing, feeding, driving, shopping, advocating, comforting and much more. The list can continue on and on! Often this tough terrain seems like trying to run a race through cement.
The news is not all bad. Here an important question to think about.
I know that what I am about to ask of you sounds much easier said than done, but, take a breath for 30 seconds, and then think about how your special needs child brings true joy to you and to others.
Yes! You read that correctly, ask yourself how does your child bring joy into the world? Did you ever notice that your child is bringing joy to others, and being their most authentic self, when they are happy? I am sure you have noticed the joy that is felt as you watch a puppy or a baby be themselves. It’s contagious! Usually we are concerned about what other people are thinking about our children. It is often a negative or critical thought. Then we start assessing the situation as well. Are they being too noisy, too disruptive, or too inappropriate? At these times, I imagine this concept of bringing joy to others rarely crosses our minds. I am happy to report that our kids DO bring joy to others much more than we might think! I had a recent experience of my child bringing joy to others that I would like to share.
My house of worship offers a rock n’ roll musical service called a Rock Shabbat. Instead of a typical Friday night Shabbat service the prayers are offered in a rock n’ roll format.
My daughters loves and lives for Rock Shabbat. She owns 5 “Rock Shabbat“ T-shirts, which have become her clothing of choice.
From the moment we walk into the temple for a Rock Shabbat service my daughter is beaming from ear to ear. If there were ever a place where she attempted to be “neurotypical” this would be it.
As she enters she excitedly greets the people she knows, takes her seat and eagerly waits for the concert to begin. As the first note of music begins,
her smile brightens and she starts to bop.
These concerts have given me a moment to slow down. It becomes a rare moment when I have a chance to notice what is going on around me. I see the people stealing glances at my daughter watching how much she is enjoying the program.
As the evening continues, the natural, overwhelming, joy within my daughter begins to build. She starts to laugh and rub her hands together to express her elation. Again, I see the effect she has on those around us. Many start to crowd around, to sing along with her, to sing the songs they know she knows, and she becomes more excited to have to people sing with her.
Finally, the joy my daughter feels engulfs her and she feels the overwhelming need to jump up and down laughing out loud, completely overjoyed!
As her mother, I am so pleased to see her deliriously happy, and, able to share this joy with her family and everyone around her.
This scenario became especially obvious last Friday night as her energy and joy impacted those around her in such a strong, positive way. All of the people around her were beaming as much as she was and it was so obvious that I could not help but notice.
Later, I was told that the performers on stage were motivated by the energy coming from my daughter and those around her. Can you imagine? This pure joy was contagious enough to enhance the performers and therefore positively impact the performance!
The joy my daughter brought to the Temple that night was able to transcend Autism! Even though, ironically, it was the Autism itself that enabled her to eliminate her inhibitions and naturally leave her in a relaxed state of euphoria that others would have to imbibe a few cocktails to achieve.
Through her genuine joy, she was able to directly increase the level of joy for everyone. That is truly amazing! I am blessed that the clergy in my house of worship are so special and realize this very point. They have told the congregation to see my daughter as an example of a true expression of joy! They have invited others to emulate her enthusiasm in this type of service.
Often there are some moments in my life when I owe my daughter and her diagnosis of Autism a
‘thank you’ for teaching me something unique and special and that evening was definitely one of them.
We have to look just beyond our circumstances to see the actual person that we are caretaking and see him or her as a person who experiences moments of true joy. It is important to carry those moments with us to BUFFER us from other moments. The moments of joy are the ones we want to hang onto and let the not so nice moments just float away. Usually we do the opposite.
Above is cherished picture of my daughter just being herself in an enlightened state of joy.
The magic is obvious.