Special Needs Parenting With Patience

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“I want to watch Toy Story.”

There he stands, with a DVD around his finger, waiting, looking at me.

“Okay, I will put it on.  Wait – this is Disc 2 with the special features.  We need Disc 1 with the movie.”

“I want to watch Toy Story.”  Declan doesn’t know his numbers yet.  Nothing I just said meant anything to him.

“I know you do.  We need to find the other disc.  Let’s go look.”

I search high, I search low.  The Toy Story 1 disc wasn’t in any of our DVD spots.

“I want to watch Toy Story.”

“Declan, I cannot find the disc.”

“It right here.  I want to watch it!”



What do I do?  The screaming will lead to crying and it will last all day.  Any plans I had to do anything besides safe guard Declan will be thrown out the window.

There are days that my patience is completely fried after being tested all day.  Somehow I have to find more.

When I go online and I look for “Patient Parenting” tips I see ideas like, “sleep!” “talk to your kids and let them know you are having a tough day” “have them help out around the house” or “take a mommy time out.”

And I look at Declan and realize I cannot do any of those things.  Declan has a sleep disorder and can be up all night.  Declan’s brain doesn’t work in a way that I can reason with him.  And there is no way I could ever leave him alone and take a “time-out.”  My goodness, some days I wish I could!

Here is what I can do

Deep breathe

We aren’t going to be able to do anything effective if I am not calm.  Deep breathing seems like such a cliche, but really, it slows everything down.  Keeps the heart rate steady.  When I am a calm parent, I am an effective parent.

Parent like the windows are open

Sometimes, if I am really frustrated it helps for me to think of someone watching me parent.  Like my child’s therapist.  I do not want to be the lazy parent, that takes the lazy way out.  I want to do the right thing.  What would my child’s therapist say to do?  So sometimes I imagine all the windows are open when I am frustrated as if my child’s therapist is watching me, listening to me.  So I stay on point, calm and focused.

Listen to music

Declan is 5 and although we are on year 3 of potty training, we are not there yet. Now, almost every suggestion of using the potty involves screaming, running and hitting.  So, I turn on the music.  FOR ME.  Ear plugs go in and I keep the beat in my head.  I get through the screaming and make another attempt.  Calmly.

Problem Solve

When I am calm, I can think of a solution.  Once I have taken my deep breath I can figure out some sort of plan B.  Sometimes there is no acceptable solution, and I am going to have to accept the trial ahead.  Once I accept it though, it is so much easier to get through those arduous moments.

Realize my kids are dealing with something

Autism is not a learned behavior or a choice for them.  Autism is not an inability for them to willingly control themselves.

I know this, but sometimes I become self involved.  When I take a step back and see things from their little eyes, I can become better focused.


One of my favorite things Declan says to me goes like this:

“I like you, Mommy.”

“I like you too, Declan.”

“I like your heart.”

“I like your heart too, Declan.”


Those words help me the most when I am looking for patience.


8 thoughts on “Special Needs Parenting With Patience

  1. Very well said. When we’re fighting ourselves we’re no help to anybody. And remaining in the present is the best way I’ve found to reground myself again in such situations. Deep breathing is free and always there!

  2. At least he was fixated on a decent movie! Have you ever tried making backup copies of his favorite movies to prevent times like these? Have no other ideas for you to try to help situations like these. Good luck on the potty training nightmare! My little brother (39 years old now living in my parents house) still has potty accidents.

    Age doesn’t mean anything to mentally handicapped people. They do the best that they can! The rest of us just have to give them breathing space.

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