I just finished reading an article posted last month at elitefts.com which gives a spot on assessment of a father's role in raising a child with a disability. "Under the Bar: They are NOT Angry Birds!".
It is an enlightening perspective from the educational side of the process. What caught my attention was the general assessment the writer provides of Father's raising a disabled child.
One of the points is that Father's need partner support, and are more likely to suffer from depression and stress.
As a front line participant from the parenting side, it is refreshing to read a point of view which clearly understands how the adventure unfolds for families dealing with a disabled child.
From a Father's point of view, it can get disheartening over time. Year after year, one either get's involved in the routine of extra visits to the sitter, daycare, school, even the job, or one tunes out early on. It is not my nature to stay uninvolved, but the price can be big, and sometimes even a tragic one.
What I have learned is that reminding the child of simple, common sense approaches, seems to help calm the storms, and provide a sense of absolution. Forgiveness must be in infinite supply for both the child and one's self. Even with the acceptance that a valid routine must be carried out, a Father can get weary of the issues which inevitably arise. Many times I have described the same symptoms of a soldier suffering from "battle fatigue".
The trick: wear the disability as one would a pair of socks. They are part of the wardrobe most of the time, but can be taken off when it is time to get more comfortable. In other words, your don't always notice the socks. Most people I meet don't usually stare at my feet for any length of time. Oh, they may notice that part of my attire, but it is soon forgotten. Unless of course they don't like my white socks as part of my three piece suit.
Therein lies the treat. When I am properly attired: i.e. shorts, bluejeans, etc, my white socks don't even register with anyone. The are still on my feet, but that's all. Not a topic of discussion, or gossip. Just socks, something everybody wears from time to time.
Physical disability can present a constant reminder of a condition. But with will power, and support, it too can simply be a part of the wardrobe, which drop off the radar of a social situation when worn with dignity.
Mental disability is sometimes more challenging, because it can present itself as the "white socks with a suite" scenario. Inappropriate behavior, bizarre interactions, or anti-social actions. The key is to establish a Pavlovian approach of helping the child and/or parent "remember the socks". It is no surprise they are being worn. We just sometimes need to pull our pant legs down.
May there be more Treats than Tricks for you.