When special needs children appear to have unlearned skills they possessed


Being the parent of a child with special needs can produce a myriad of emotions that are connected to our children’s growth and development. Some of those emotions will be guilt (did I cause this somehow), anger (why my family), feelings of loss (for what could have been) even a twang of envy when observing typically developing kids skill – set which your child struggles to develop or even possess. These are merely a few examples as each family is different.

When the children are born, you go through a grieving process of sorts. While pregnant, visions of whether the child will be a boy or a girl, what they will look like, whether they will grow up to be the next president, famous ballerina or football player and future parental and social interactions with friends prance through your head.

When the child is born and receives a diagnosis all of the dreams that you had are traded in for therapy appointments, restructuring your own time to help your child experience success to the best of their abilities. After all, just like parents of typically developing kids, you wish to have a well balanced happy healthy child and family life.

What inevitably happens in the majority of families is that you gradually develop a new type of normal. We grieve the child who initially resided in the confines of our mind and gradually accept the child we have. We learn to note the positive in them and not merely what capabilities they do not possess. As special needs parents, you take nothing for granted. Every milestone reached that you never expected your child to accomplish is savored in a way that parents of typically developing parents could not begin to comprehend. For them, playdates, group sports, outings are an unsaid and everyday part of their life. While parents of typically developing kids possess hopes that their child will become captain of their baseball team, special needs parents just want their child to enjoy being part of a team. While other parents worry about how popular their child is, special needs parents silently hope for their child to have a friend.

For the special needs parent, a simple shopping trip or outing with a child can take days to plan for. They may struggle with getting through a simple shopping trip without some extraneous trigger sending their child into an emotional tailspin. Thus, you cut your outing short. A special needs family who attempts to watch a movie in a theater or enjoy a simple family meal in a restaurant may be forced to leave due to circumstances beyond their control. A child may have an unexpected meltdown, make loud noises that are beyond their parents control until inevitably you hear the “Can’t you control your child” from other patrons.

That said, I would like to remind you that bringing up a child with special needs is a humbling, ego busting, negative self efficacy promoter and occasionally even a lonely job where it feels akin to walking down a dark path alone. You are far from alone and doing the best job possible. Remember, you ARE a good parent. If you did not love and care about your children immensely, those negative feelings of insecurity and failure would not rear their ugly head within. Those feeling arise out of frustration and uncertainty that you are not providing the best assistance to those you love the most.

The most powerful self esteem snatcher for a parent of special needs children is to revel in a skill the child has acquired which was not expected. Upon observing your child’s newly acquired skill, strong feelings of hope are felt by the parent. Just when the child achieves a new skill and we allow ourselves permission to dream about their future in a positive light, the child may regress in another area where skills had been acquired long ago. Many parents have thrown up their hands at this point and felt like giving up, cannot take parenting a challenging child any longer or simply feel like a failure while focusing on the child’s regression in skills.

Regressive behavior during development of milestones can actually be a temporary yet necessary development while the child acquires new skills. Can regression be positive? I provide to you a resounding yes. Regressive behavior can result from stress, fear of the unknown, frustration due to challenging circumstances or delving into a new experience or in this case learning a new skill.

Many equate regression in children as returning to a more comfortable time in their life that is not age appropriate. Ie the potty trained child who starts wetting the bed, or the older child who wants a pacifier or bottle which assists them into retreating to a safer more comfortable time in their life. Regression can also pertain to unlearning old behaviors or skills while learning new ones.

Learning the new skill may produce uncertainty in a child. They are entering a new territory that is challenging. In doing so, other skills may be unlearned requiring more attention from the parent for the child as he/her ventures forth with a new challenge. Hence, the child’s progression becomes two steps forward and one step back. Even adults experience this.

Haven’t the majority of we adults experienced temporary loss of skills when dealing with an all encompassing challenge such as death, illness, family challenges? Heck, I recall being so entrenched in a family crisis in the past that I misplaced my car keys only to find that they had been mindlessly deposited in the freezer by me. I recall being preoccupied with other challenges that warranted my attention to the extent that I temporarily lost the ability to write articles. Although I possessed the capability I could find no words to transfer from my mind to paper. I am sure all readers can recall variations of my examples within their own adult lives.

Occasionally even as adults, we seem to unlearn skills ourselves and they take a back burner while we process challenging events Learning is not a linear experience. Children learn in what I define a form of disequilibrium, especially children with special challenges. At times, everything is smooth sailing and you think your special needs child is on track. Then BOOM, the child appears to regress rather than progress. In fact, progression is generally evident during times like this. Kids do not develop in all areas simultaneously. Be a sleuth think of regressive periods in your child’s life as touch points.
When your child appears to unlearn skills or display much younger coping skills, attempt to identify a recently acquired skill or one they are attempting to master. You may just spot emotional or physical growth hidden in the child’s so called one step backward. These periods may go on for days or even a month.

During these periods you will have thoughts of should of, would of, could ofs running rampant through your mind. Remember that you are doing the best that you can with the tools you have at your fingertips. Your children do not come with a handbook. Each child is different and will react to different interventions in different ways. But I assure you that progression will take place with time, patience not only for your child but for yourself as well. You are your child’s best and strongest advocate. Do not let would ofs, should of, and could of demons that are generally developed from parental guilt versus reality strip you of your hopes and dreams for your child. After all, isn’t hope the biggest strength for you and a gift to reinforce in your child the most important force you possess to keep on with trudging forward.

Hang in there and never stop dreaming, hoping and believing no matter how dark you feel the road is. You and your child will keep progressing. After all, you made it through yesterday and the day before that. You will make it through today and all days thereof as well. Your kids believe in you. Remember to believe in yourself as well.

From the heart of Mari Nosal M.Ed

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

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Parents With Special Needs Children And Giving Themselves Permission To Express Personal Feelings


Parenting children with special needs produces a sense of uncertainty and grief. Parents of special needs children possess the same hopes and dreams for their children as parents of typically developing children. We concern ourselves with their welfare, want them to be happy and thrive. In the case of special needs children, the hopes and dreams for their future that we conjured within the confines of our minds while they were in utero are shattered the day a diagnosis is given. Our children are still our children who will be loved unconditionally. You will climb to the ends of the earth to ensure they receive the best services possible. They will be supported, loved and advocated for with the fierce love that only a parent can possess.

Original expectations of what our children’s childhood and needs are must be restructured. While restructuring our initial impressions regarding your child’s identity, you must also restructure your own. Parenting children with special needs can create a sense of guilt, uncertainty and fear. Parenting a child with disabilities can create a sense of lonesomeness. It can be a truly isolating experience. Many parents do not express their grief or fears. Parents who are dealing with guilt, anger and creating a new sense of (normal) in their family may worry that expressing angry or negative emotions will portray them to the public eye as an incompetent parent. This merely stems from their own feelings of incompetence.

This feeling of incompetence is not reality. Any parent who loves their child unconditionally, tirelessly advocating for them 24-7, supporting their child’s every sign of progress and never giving up on believing that child will progress beyond anyone’s prognosis is displaying a level of competency like no other. To experience days with your child when falling on our face and sliding back a few steps is the norm yet standing upright and moving forward the following day is indicative of strength not weakness. There is no stronger driving force than a parents love for their child, special needs or not. The silent emotions such as guilt, grief even anger may also be hidden for fear of judgment from family, friends and society at large.

We may hide feelings from others to protect them from what is perceived as negative and unacceptable feelings. Perceiving your emotions as negative and unacceptable may also be fueled by individuals who advise you to be strong, look on the bright side, stay positive and occasionally even tell you to get over it and deal with reality. Remember, many who tell you to deal with reality are individuals who do not walk in your shoes. They have no idea what your reality is. It is of the utmost importance to talk to others regarding your anger and guilt. Special needs parents are human as well and possess feelings. It is also acceptable to have those feelings. Never let others minimize them. Educate family and friends on special needs. If you are not comfortable talking to them, provide information via leaflets, books and videos on the topic.

Find or create a support group to share your daily struggles with others who are experiencing similar challenges. If time constraints limit opportunities to meet on a regular basis with other individuals, consider taking advantage of technology. Perhaps group Skype chats or Google hangout meetings would work. These are just a couple of examples. It is well worth the effort to meet with others who understand your challenges. You will feel a sense of kinship rather than loneliness when supported by understanding people. Sharing your stories can be emotionally freeing when you realize that you are in a no judgment environment.

You are not walking this path in darkness nor alone. No child will have the same specific challenges as your child. No parents will be dealing with the same emotions and challenges as you. However, meeting individuals with similar challenges will help create a circle of support and friendship. Despite differences in special needs families, similarities abound. All parents struggle from insecurities, guilt, and uncertainty for their child’s future. All children want to be accepted, included and understood by peers and society.

Please attempt to remember that you are a human being composed of a plethora of emotions. Find a trusted nonjudgmental group of people who will support and understand you when anger, frustration or guilt arises. Those emotions are warranted and need a safe place to be expressed. Venting under the right conditions can be emotionally and physically healing. You can not be super parent or perfect constantly. Missing a siblings ball game or play because of therapy or medical appointments for your special needs child does not make you an incompetent parent. The fact that you feel guilt arises out of the every fact that you DO love your children. Unfortunately, you cannot be all things to everyone at the same time. Cut yourself some slack for the humanness factor. If your house is in disarray, it is not indicative of a disorganized parent. It is merely representative of a parent who has placed priorities on familial demands over a couple of dust balls.

You will make mistakes. This again is a sign that you are mortal. Do not beat yourself up for that which is out of your control. You are not super human individuals capable of parting the Dead Sea. Do not compare yourself with parents of typically developing kids. Your kids and family are different than theirs but no less worthy. Sleepless nights with children, midnight showers when children are finally asleep, eating standing up while making sure a child does not bolt out the door or get injured take their toll. Notice your child’s accomplishments and bask in the glory of them. It is extremely easy to focus on what your child cannot do in comparison to little Johnny down the street who road a two-wheel bike at age four or walked at 10 months. If your child was never expected to talk yet uttered their first words at age six, tell the world. Special needs parents deserve bragging rights for their children just as parents of typically developing children do. Our kids milestones may appear much later then neurotypical kids. Those milestones are huge to a special needs parent, express your pride to the world.

Remember, you know your child and their needs better than anyone. Speak up to professionals, educators and society at large. Never underestimate what an awesome skilled parent you are! You have what it takes. After all, you made it this far. Every time you feel like you cannot go on and fall on your face, recall how many times that you have stood back up and kept on moving.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

Mari Nosal M.Ed.

A Special New Years Resolution Challenge For Parents Of Special Needs Kids


As the New Year approaches, it is human nature to review our misgivings. We ponder what bad habits need to be worked on. Perceived flaws in our personalities and negative living habits are scrutinized by many individuals as the year draws to a close.

Assessing what could be restructured within our lives is definitely important. Unfortunately, focusing on the positive aspects such as goals accomplished, strides already made within our lives, emotional and spiritual growth within us is left on the back-burner. It is common to focus on what needs to be fixed then what does not.

In regards to parents of special needs children, this is commonplace. Parent’s work 24 – 7 to support their children’s development, medical needs, social and emotional needs, special dietary requirements and more.

As the children struggle, parents seek ways to assist their children’s growth, development and most of all, happiness. Their children’s challenges are their challenges as well. Special needs parents wish for happiness and success in their children’s lives just like parents of neurotypical children.

For special needs parents, the road is a bit more daunting but the same parental goals for children are universal nonetheless. Parents of special needs kids self-esteem can get bruised through noting children’s physical and emotional delays, behavioral challenges and comparisons to typically developing children.

Constant self scrutinization of parenting skills can be resultant in negative self efficacy. In other words, we can carry a negative self-image into other aspects of our lives. This may affect how we see ourselves as a person within society at large. When our children do not meet developmental markers on time, parents tend to personalize this as poor parenting skills when this is not true.

My goal this year is to establish a new personal resolve. I challenge other parents to join me. Let’s focus not only on what is wrong within our lives. Focus on what is right as well. We all have areas where change and growth is necessitated. However lets remember that “to err is human” and non of us are infallible.

New Years Resolutions:

1) I will celebrate my child’s strides and not merely focus on what he/she cannot do. (YET)
2) I will acknowledge that I am a separate person from the rest of my family with individual needs.
3) I will remember that occasionally embracing my self and remembering my talents and achievement’s is beneficial to the whole family. If I cannot accept myself, I will be too emotionally burnt out to make positive contributions within my family.
4) I will look in the mirror every morning and evening and recite this mantra three times. I will recite this even on my most challenging days when nothing seems to go right. “I have tried my best today. My best is all I can offer for I am merely human.”
5) I will learn to ask for help from others and accept it graciously from those who offer. I will accept the fact that bringing up a special needs child is a task that takes a village. I am not wonder woman or superman. I cannot perform every function and responsibility alone.
6) I will avoid self-deprecating remarks and learn to accept compliments from others without deflecting them. Special needs parents are more than worthy of praise and worthy human beings.
7) I will rejoice in the part I played in helping my child reach milestones, even baby steps. I will not merely focus on what did not work. Most importantly, I will remind myself of what is out of my control despite effort and measures that I applied.
8) I will learn to laugh at what is unresolvable and attempt to be less of a perfectionist. Laughter is the best medicine, even in the direst circumstances.
9) I cannot control the fate of others nor mold the total outcome of their future. I will attempt to remind myself of this daily. Thus, accepting the reality that I cannot fix other people.
10) I will be open to change in my life and changing myself within realistic parameters. I will embrace what is already good and right within my life as well.
I hope you will join me and resolve to embrace yourself this New Years. Accept yourself for the wonderful person you ALREADY are and the contributions you make to your family and society at large. Be open to change but also note your positive attributes that we tend to miss.

Most of all hold your head up high with pride as you venture out and about this year.

Happy New Year: and a wish for positive growth, happiness and success. Do not let life define you. Make sure that you define your life.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel if you just look hard and far enough.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

Mari Nosal M.Ed.