Special Needs Parenting:Feeling Like A Square Peg That Doesn’t Fit In The Round Hole

The college that I attended to be a special needs parent is called the College Of Live And Learn. ALL lessons within the College Of Live And Learn are performed as on the job training. Training and experiences that provided me with the drive to go back to college with the ultimate goal of making a dent in society at large. Thus, creating a world that embraces neuro- diversity . A world that not merely notes the deficits in people, but appreciates and gains an awareness of the strengths thatevery human being, challenged or not possesses.

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Parenting a child with special needs to adulthood has produced ambivalent feelings. Bringing up a child with Aspergers syndrome and another son 22 months his senior who presented with medical challenges has proven to be a double-edged sword. On one side of the sword, I have felt heartbreak, grief for the child I dreamed of before they were born that did not become the child that I imagined they would be. I experienced  fear for my child’s future, even feeling like an incompetent boob at times unworthy to be their parent. I observed other children develop on an age appropriate timetable, A timetable which my child lagged behind. 
On the other side of the sword, my experiences have provided me with a gift. Despite the challenges associated with parenting special needs children. My children, my husband and I have grown and unified together. The children I imagined they would be became the child they were supposed to be. They became the children that I would not only learn to accept, but the children that I would embrace , love and admire. I learned through them  that every human on the planet has imperfections which represent our humanness and is not indicative of being broken.

They are my teacher as well as me being theirs. Resultant from being a square peg versus a round one, I place less importance on materialism and more on the spiritual beauty of this journey called life.. Together, as a family, we have learned the meaning of team work. When we take two steps backwards, it is just that: two steps backwards. When this occurs, I have learned to get back up on my feet and work as an interdependent team and carry on. For all of the steps our family has taken backwards, we have taken strides forward as well. Like a flock of geese, when one of us feels defeated, another steps forward and heads the flock until the tired and defeated member regains their strength. Challenges do not only tear people apart, but can bring them together as well. It is during times of strife that humans learn how strong they really are.
I appreciate milestones and developmental growth that neurotypical parents take for granted. I have developed a level of social awareness for mankind and society at large that I never would have possessed without children with special needs. I gained an awareness of human fallibility through my children. I developed a level emotional strength and perseverance by taking care and advocating for my children that is akin with a mother lion baring her claws to protect her cubs. During moments when I felt as though I could not go on, as with the mother lion, I expressed a sense of determination and drive to protect my children with an energy that was extracted from an innate need to protect and teach my young and fierce love for them.
My experiences have provided me membership into a club that I did not choose to join. The club for special families. I coined my imaginary club, the club for special needs families because parenting special needs children affects the whole family. Children, parents, siblings extended family members struggle with issues related to living in a special needs family. It affects the continuity, belief systems and most importantly priorities that the familial unit is composed of. My life (our lives) have been changed forever. As I mentioned earlier, our lives have been fraught with uncertainty and trepidation. However all challenges that change our lives are not always negative.
I have grown and learned to stop and smell the roses. I have learned to believe in the unbelievable. I have learned the meaning of faith, an intangible yet ever present force in my life. Faith has taught me to hope, dream, persevere and believe in that which is not visible yet lives in our heart.

We may not be able to physically touch or see faith in a tangible sense.  We sure can feel it renew our very soul and provide us with the energy to trudge forward.Look hard enough however and you will witness reminders of why having faith is important  everywhere. Reminders that instill hope when we feel hopeless, that show us the altruism and good in the world when we feel despondent and alone. It is alive in kind acts of strangers, a kind note we suddenly receive or a developmental milestone met in our children just at the moment when we want to throw in the towel and give up overwhelmed with feelings of futility. Faith is renewed like a surge of light in our heart through smiles from a stranger when we are sad, a compliment when we feel insignificant, even the person who pays for a meal for the person behind them at a drive through. These acts remind us to hope, believe, never give up and yes, instill faith in us. I could provide more examples but I am sure you get the idea that I am attempting to convey. All of these acts of kindness, miracles witnessed renew our spirit, or our faith if you will.

  We sure can rely on it in times of strife. Instead of looking into the future and worrying about what will be, I look into the past and look at what was and what is. Hence, providing myself with a window that allows me to reflect and focus on the strides my now adult children have made, rather then what is not and may not be large bursts of growth. I remind myself to look at the baby steps for everything will not occur on my wishful timetable. It will occur in a time frame that is right and works for my kids. Coining an old phrase… Focus on the past only long enough to learn from it for the past is gone. Do not worry about the future for it has not occurred yet and is unknown. Focus on the present for the present is a gift.
I have changed my perception of our family presenting as abnormal, perhaps being less then the neurotypical family down the road, to creating a new normal. A normal that works for us. Rather then perceiving us as the square peg attempting to fit in a round hole, I now perceive us as merely the square peg. The square peg will only fit in a round hole if it is re – designed. I now choose to perceive the square peg as the peg who stands out from the others, is different yet not damaged. I now walk tall and use our experiences to make a difference in the world. Being different, propels us with the force of a cannonball shot from a cannon to create a new normal and a life of acceptance and hope. We are different yes, just like every other human being. Different does not connote inferior, merely marching to the beat of our own drum.
I possess a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in sociology. I have my Masters degree in Educational Foundations as well. I have worked as a professional educator, done public speaking engagements and more. Although my academic and professional background provided me with information and experience within the special needs field, It did not provide me with a window into what being a special needs parent entailed. One cannot Google Aspergers Syndrome and profess to be an expert. I had to live it. I have learned more from special needs parenting then I ever learned in the classroom.

The college that I attended to be a special needs parent is called the College Of Live And Learn. ALL lessons within the College Of Live And Learn are performed as on the job training. Training and experiences that provided me with the drive to go back to college with the ultimate goal of making a dent in society at large. Thus, creating a world that embraces neuro- diversity . A world that not merely notes the deficits in people, but appreciates and gains an awareness of the strengths thatevery human being, challenged or not possesses.
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Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

About the author: My son had experienced many school , behavioral , motor skill and processing issues before he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.

During this process I realized that a lot of parents were going through the same thing. I wanted to make sure that no other parent would go through that experience feeling as though they were walking in the dark.

Considering my experience in the human services and educational fields, I decided to write a book, “Ten Commandments of Interacting with Kids on the Autism Spectrum”. tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

If you would like to know more regarding my inspiring journey which led me to become an autism advocate, perform international interviews via internet and pod casts. I am a published author and blogger. I can be contacted for public speaking engagements and book presentations in Massachusetts and surrounding areas. I am also available for podcast and radio interviews. For more information, please private message Mari Nosal via LinkedIn .

If You enjoyed this article. Check out more like it in my books at Amazon.com  tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE received her B.A. in psychology and her Masters degree in Educational Foundations from Curry College. She spent years as a school age coordinator, blogger and author, and has over 30 years’ experience within the human services and education fields. She has had special needs articles published in several magazines. Mari is a published author whose special needs Autism and Asperger related books can be found on Amazon.com Barnes and Noble and Createspace. She is 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. Mari also works with Non Profits, schools, and society at large as well. She conducts public speaking engagements that provide them with the tools and knowledge to help special needs children, predominantly autism and Asperger (with her specialty being Asperger Syndrome) to become as independent and successful as possible. Mari has presented  workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups in the southeastern Mass. area and worldwide via Zoom, Skype ,pod cast and more.44444444444444. She offers tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. She is 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. Inquiries regarding availability for Workshops, Public Speaking Events, motivational speaking and training can be arranged via messaging on LinkedIn to inquire regarding speaking fees. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing The New Year With Hope : Resolutions For Special Needs Parents


As the New Year approaches, it is human nature to review our misgivings. Perceived character flaws and negative habits are scrutinized as the year draws to a close. Change can be positive and assessing areas to restructure 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:

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1) I will celebrate my child’s strides and not merely focus on what he/she cannot do. (YET)
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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. 
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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.” 
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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.
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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.
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 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.
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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.
Related image9) 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.
Related imageI 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 
  
About The Author: (Mari Nosal M.Ed CECE)
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.tinyurl.com/kdspqy9I 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 ventured into public speaking engagements to educate parents , educators and society at large about autism and Aspergers SyndromeI 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 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  If you would like to know more regarding my inspiring journey which led me to become an autism advocate, participate in international interviews via internet, pod casts and more, published author, and blogger

​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book


Ten commandments new book cover BookCoverPreview.doThis book shows you real life examples of a collaborative system from someone who spent a career designing grade-school curriculums for children, parenting a son with Aspergers Syndrome, and wor…

Source: ​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book

​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book


Ten commandments new book cover BookCoverPreview.doThis book shows you real life examples of a collaborative system from someone who spent a career designing grade-school curriculums for children, parenting a son with Aspergers Syndrome, and wor…

Source: ​​Mari Nosal’s Ten Commandments Of Interacting and Communicating With Kids on the Autism Spectrum and Related Commandments Paperback Book

Excerpt From Ten Commandments for Interacting With Kids On The Autism Spectrum



Thou shall not compare me to others.
Please remind me, and note the talents that I possess. This increases my confidence and positive self worth. Learning disabled or not, we ALL have talents to contribute within society. I need you to help me realize what mine is. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.
 Thou shall not exclude me from activities.
Please do not mimic me, ignore me, or bully me. Please invite me to play with you. It hurts my feelings when I am excluded. I like to run and jump in the playground, and be invited to birthday parties too. Grownups can help me make friends by encouraging other children to play with me. I can be a loyal friend if you get to know me.

 

Mari Nosal M.Ed

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

Excerpt From Book Ten Commandments For Educators Who Teach Kids on the Autism Spectrum


Thou shall practice reflective observation and remediation. If I become distracted, hyperactive, speak out of turn, or agitated, please attempt to find out why I am doing so. It is easier to prevent a behavioral issue than to try and re-mediate it afterwards. If you notice the early warning signs, you may be able to make adaptations to prevent escalation. Once my behavior has gotten out of hand it will be difficult to assist me with getting back on task. Simple techniques may work. If I am having difficulty focusing, seem agitated, or become socially inappropriate, the bright fluorescent lights may be hurting my eyes. Please remember that my five senses are hypersensitive and I can become over-stimulated by everyday sights, smells, and sounds. Perhaps, dimming the lights in the room may calm me down. If I appear hyperactive, perhaps you could find a job for me to do in the classroom. The job could be as simple as making me a helper and asking me to hand out paper, or art supplies to the other children, pass out homework etc. so I can stretch my legs without being singled out in front of my classmates. If I am distracted by the other children while expected to take a test, perhaps you will allow me to wear earplugs to squelch my hypersensitivity to noise. I know I can be a lot of work at times, especially in a inclusive classroom. It is worth your effort, I assure you. It is a win-win situation for me and my classmates. They will learn to accept and respect differences in people through their interactions with me. They will carry this empathy into adulthood and the workplace. In turn, I will learn appropriate social skills through observation of my neurotypical classmates. With your assistance, the other children will learn to note and appreciate my talents and contributions within the classroom. I will learn how to be a member of a group who appreciates me. This in turn will boost my positive self-efficacy.

Mari Nosal M.Ed

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

Excerpt From ‘Ten Commandments of Interacting with Kids on the Autism Spectrum For Parents


Thou shall tell parents of autistic kids what they do well: We struggle with our child’s special needs, attempt to carve out time with our other children so they do not feel left out, carve out time for our spouse, attempt to create a copacetic environment for our families, love and accept unconditionally, and more. We parents are occasionally insecure regarding our parenting skills. We are not immune to the glaring disapproving eyes, and mumbles of disapproval regarding our parenting style of our special needs kids. We need support and understanding from you as we feel helpless when we cannot help our child during a meltdown, etc. Please tell us what we do right occasionally and offer to lend a hand. It means the world to a parent of a special needs child to receive a compliment regarding them or their child when the parent feels like giving up hope.
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.

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