Transitions As A Special Needs Parent

“So what do we do now? What is the next step here?” I asked the pediatrician as we looked at each other over Caleb squirming between us yelling his ABC’s.

I used to know what to try next. It was pretty simple and the supplies could easily be found at Target. Now we are beyond Target and I’m unsure what comes next.

The transitions snuck up on me, although I knew it was coming. I suddenly do not have “babies” anymore. I think that realization hits all parents at some point, but for special needs parents it means something different.

When the kids were babies, I could get supplies that helped them at the local Target ( or other similar store) easily. We need nightlights for trauma induced fears, Target has them. We need diapers, Target has dozens of options. We need chewies and the teething toys at Target work. We are having mobility struggles and we can get a stroller or wagon at Target to help.

Then the day comes where trauma fears can’t be solved by a nightlight. The kids are getting older, and as they do their understanding of what they have endured deepens and their fears morph from being monsters in their closest to how they can know when life is safe and when people won’t hurt them? How do they know they won’t go hungry again?Night lights can do nothing to lighten those fears.

The store sells diapers up to size six by which point most kiddos are at least starting to potty train. However, for Caleb the toilet is a terrifying sensory experience and he is not ready to face it. So what do we do when the diapers in the store are too small? What do we do when the teething toys can’t stand up to big kid mouths?

What do we do when Caleb’s CMT makes him tire out too quickly to handle walks or the zoo or a museum, and he no longer fits in a stroller or a wagon?

So what do we do? We widen the search. We ask the experts. We realize that our days of being able to run to Target for ways to make our kids lives easier are over. We say goodbye to the chapter where baby supplies worked and move into this new chapter.

We got a prescription from that same pediatrician for larger diapers. We are trying new therapy supply stores for chewies and weighted blankets and therapy tools that are made to withstand big kids. We talk about the hard things and help the kids find ways to feel safe. We are working with our OT and Pediatrician to order a big kid stroller. We never stop searching and we just keep moving.

I can’t help but be acutely aware of both the bitter and the sweet of this transition. I have no more babies. I have a house full of kids now, not babies. The fact that they are continuing to grow and thrive is beautiful and amazing. The fact that things are slightly more challenging with Special Needs Children as opposed to Special Needs Babies is kind of sad. The fact that time passes so fast is also sad. Never blink. You might miss some of the magic.

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