When you have a child with special needs, you sit
in many waiting rooms. Usually the visit is every week, sometimes
all year long. While your child gets the amazing therapies he or
she needs to succeed in daily life, you wait.
If you are like me, you could try to run one errand,
attempt to read a book or clean out your purse in each 50-minute
slot. However, you simply cannot repeat those actions every week.
Some weeks you are so tired, you easily could fall asleep on the
hard plastic chair in the waiting room. Some weeks you're so
hyperactive, you could just as easily lead a marching band through
the room. Other weeks, the weather is so awful, you are just happy
to have arrived safely. Therefore, you are content simply to sit,
thankfully and quietly.
For the siblings of the child in therapy, you prepare. You
pack snacks, books and games. You play and cajole. They usually
meet other waiting sibs and, depending on those children's social
skills, you either watch anxiously, ready to intervene, or you
catch up on the semi-latest celebrity gossip looking at months-old
Sometimes you meet another mom or dad with the same time
appointment or waiting for the same group your child is attending.
If it is the latter, you have a great deal to talk about and share.
It is a "free" therapy session for the parents of these unique
Sometimes you find a mom who is meeting the daily
challenges of her child with grace and magnificence. She is still
smiling, chatting and making jokes. She is kind and friendly to
your other children. She is interested in you, your life and your
child. She is one mom who you know immediately understands your
She can nod in agreement with how you handled a
potentially explosive moment and share back a tip on how she
handled a similar scene with her son. You will nod in agreement, at
how sometimes your spouse isn't exactly on board with the latest
parenting method or class you are both now advocating.
You are amazed how even your non-child experiences are the
same. You have both been let go of jobs because of ill-tempered
supervisors; you are the same age; she wants to become a teacher
and you were a teacher in your prior life.
She is the friend you will have over for coffee some
morning. You haven't yet asked her because every week you know how
busy her schedule is and, truthfully, so is yours. She is like you,
tireless and committed to her son.
When you meet a parent like that, your worries, workload
and world are lightened. You gain back some energy. You feel
positive about the time and money your family is pouring into these
therapies. You feel hope. On an often-lonely road as the parent of
a special needs child, it is comforting to find a special
Kim Stricker is a Northfield mom raising two sons, one diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD.
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