When you have a child diagnosed with something – be it autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, or whatever, you will no doubt hear some variation of these words along the way:
“But what is normal anyway? There’s really no such thing.”
The people speaking these words are usually doing so out of a good place – they want to make you feel included in a world that doesn’t understand your family. They want to connect with you. Oftentimes, they are attempting to soften some sort of blow. You know this because these words are usually spoken in conjunction with your child doing something very abnormal.
Let me break through all the fluff for a minute here and be really blunt:
There is such a thing as normal, and you’re not it.
It shouldn’t be. If you’re reading this, I think you already knew that. You know your life doesn’t look, feel or function like most of your friends’ lives. Your child acts differently.Your child has “special friends” known as therapists. You may eat differently. You have different boundaries than other families do. Your child may take a slew of supplements every morning in addition to a “normal” multi-vitamin.
You, my friend, and your family, are not normal.
Normal is dropping your child off at Vacation Bible School and then just leaving.
Normal is signing up for T-ball without a 30 minute “how to” briefing on interacting with your child.
Normal is going out for ice cream without inspecting every last ingredient in the treat.
Normal is not thinking twice about the sensory effects Christmas morning has on your child.
These things are taken for granted by “normal” families.
You, like me, dear, do not have that luxury. Denying it is not going to change it.
I could quote scripture here talking about the benefits of being counter-cultural, and how normal isn’t necessarily a good thing but I’m going to step down a level and quote Dr. Seuss instead:
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Your child (and by extension your family) is not normal. At least right now. So stop striving for it.
Stop reading parenting books that weren’t written for you.
Stop asking advice from friends who do not have the same challenges as you do.
Stop eating the same standard American diet garbage and trying to get a healthy kid out of it.
Stop beating yourself up because normal isn’t working for your family.
and move forward instead.
Photo Credit Steve Depolo via Creative Commons