what falls through the cracks

Parenthood is a daunting call.  Parenting any child is both mentally and physically exhuasting.  And when you have more than one child new energy is poured into creating and maintaining a balancing act – giving attention as equally as possible to each of your children so that no one feels slighted or neglected. When you have a special needs child, that balancing act becomes almost impossible to maneuver.

Alright, enough with the 2nd person intoduction…

I have had a very hard time balancing the needs of my three children given the extraordinary needs of my middle child, my daughter who has autism.  I think my oldest child, also a daughter, has probably suffered the most, since she was knocked off her only child pedestal and THEN had to cope with the birth of another sibling – so there were TWO children who needed my physical presence in very demanding ways.  Her age (7 when my 3rd child was born), her natural independent streak and the needs of her siblings made it hard for me to see when she needed me too.  She has often fallen through the cracks.  But that’s a post for another day…

My third and last child, my son, has had his share of falling through the cracks as well, albeit in different ways from his oldest sister.  Playdates have been hard because of inviting people into our sometimes chaotic home. With my oldest daughter having preschool friends BEFORE the birth of her sister, those friends were sensitized to our life almost as slowly as we were – as we discovered that our daughter was “different” so did they.  But with our son it’s been more like, “Hi, nice to meet you.  By the way if my daughter wants to sniff your hair, that’s just her autism saying hello.”  Alright, I’m not that blunt – and she doesn’t sniff hair anymore, but you get the point – with my oldest daughter’s friends it was a gradual process, with my son’s friends it’s more teaching them to swim by throwing them in the pool.  Not easy.

Another crack he’s fallen into is the “game crack.”  We loved playing games with our oldest, and she remembers.  With my son, playing a game is a rare thing because when he was younger (he’s 9 now) his sister would often walk up to the game board and knock it over, or EAT game pieces or scream and hit him or one of us – because she wanted attention or was just frustrated at not being able to play along because game playing is a higher cognitive skill than she was capable of.  Even though she is long past that kind of behavior and could probably play along with some of the games now, we got out of the habit, and so we have shelves with games gathering dust.   We’re trying, but it’s hard to break bad habits.

Another crack, and one that my husband and I are determined to remedy is the “bicycle crack.”  Both my husband and I were riding bikes without training wheels by the end of kindergarten.  My oldest daughter learned a bit later than that, but learned still, while her sister was safely strapped in a stroller.  We tried for a while to teach our autistic daughter to ride, but she was pretty hopeless, not able to coordinate balance and pedaling and breaking and speed.  So we stopped riding our bikes.  What were we to do, call a babysitter for her so we could go for a family ride – when we had so few people we could trust to babysit for her in the first place?  Our bikes gathered dust in the garage, just like our board games on the shelves.  With our son, bike riding rarely even came up as a topic of conversation, let alone a goal to work towards.

better late than never

better late than never

But we’ve realized that bike riding is a critical piece of the socializing puzzle for any kid, especially boys. It’s a way they hang out.  He has a school friend who lives down the hill from us and it’s a way they can be together without coming in the house.  And since my son isn’t very athletic at all, it’s a way they can connect that isn’t sport related (like “let’s play basketball!”).  It has fallen through the cracks for too long. It will end this summer.  We have set a goal.  And our son is motivated.

He’s doing well.  The other day when we had him out in the church parking lot he was able to stay up for about 10 seconds before falling.  My husband is taking him out again this afternoon and we’ll see what happens then…  fingers crossed!

So stuff falls through the cracks.  We can’t go back and “undo” it – but we can resolve to do better in the here and now and move forward.  So my son is learning how to ride a bike…

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6 thoughts on “what falls through the cracks

  1. ollamok July 6, 2015 at 4:20 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Tell It Once And For Autism and commented:
    Good blog

  2. NickyB. July 6, 2015 at 7:04 pm Reply

    OMG…This is kinda scary because I was just talking about this very thing today with my husband. We have dropped the ball with my daughter due to my son not being able to ride his bike…We took the training wheels off of both of their bikes and it was so exhausting trying to teach my son and he would have meltdowns so we kinda stopped… I am determined that she learns within the next few months.

    • lisaleben July 6, 2015 at 10:37 pm Reply

      Good luck with your daughter. If it’s too hard for your son don’t beat yourself up about it (that’s an important lesson too!).

      • NickyB. July 6, 2015 at 11:01 pm

        Exactly. Try telling my husband that! He is too big for the training wheels so we took them off. We have to figure something else out for him but I have to teach my daughter. Thank you. Good luck to you too!

      • lisaleben July 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

        There is a method I’ve heard of to teach kids bike riding by taking the PEDALS off. I haven’t looked into it in any detail, but it’s worth a try if you’re determined with your son. But I wouldn’t try teaching both your son AND daughter at the same time – too much stress! Maybe if your son sees his sister it will be a good motivator! Do your daughter first. Again, good luck! Let me know how it goes!

      • NickyB. July 7, 2015 at 8:58 am

        Excellent idea to focus on my daughter first!! Thank you for the pedals off suggestion. I have read that before. I really appreciate it!

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