We have a new Featured Parent to introduce you to!
Fun and Function: Who are you and your kids?
Margie Walker: I'm Margie Walker, and my kids are "Beauty" Walker, age 5, and "Macho" Walker, age 3.
FF: What is the nature of their special needs?
MW: Autism, SPD, PDD-NOS, and ADHD.
FF:Where can we find your blog?
FF: What would you say is your biggest challenge in raising a child with special needs?
MW: I know most people would think the biggest challenge would be paying for therapies or finding help in their area, but really - for me anyway - finding the strength and patience to be with my children, day in and day out, is my greatest difficulty. I hate to admit how difficult it is to "put up" with my kids. Of course I love them, but there are days where I'd really love to stay in bed and not deal with any screaming or fighting. "Regular" parents have no idea what it's like. Most of our children are non-verbal, they can't go to a grocery store or go to a playground for fear that a meltdown will occur. It's never a question of if it will happen, it's a question of when...
I know that my children love me, but I don't hear it every day. It can feel like such an unfulfilling job when you don't hear "thank you," or I "love you," or when you work so hard to teach your child to eat with a spoon and 3 years later, you're still working on it. It's also absolutely maddening to hear yourself repeat the same phrases over and over again without any result; "Please stop yelling!" "Please stop jumping!" "Don't hit your sister!" "Please sit still!" I'm always so grateful when both my kids are in bed and I can finally sit down and relax, even if it's only for a few minutes.
FF: What would you say is your greatest joy in raising your child?
MW: One of the biggest blessings in my life is seeing my children smile, I mean really smile! The few moments where they look in my eyes and they smile, or they give me a kiss, or I get a real hug (you know, where they actually wrap their arms around you?), yeah, those moments make everything worthwhile! I don't think I could do what I do every day without those small moments where my children acknowledge me and, in their own way, let me know they love me. That, for me, is pure joy!
FF: What would you say has been the biggest help you in raising your kids?
MW: Early Intervention has been my biggest help for sure! The experts and specialists there really helped me figure out the first few necessary steps I needed to take to help my kids. They also helped me figure out what the next few steps should be once my kids reached the age of 3 (when they no longer qualify for early intervention). I also did a lot of research on my own regarding different therapies, strategies, sensory toys, etc. Though I may not have all the answers on how to help my kids, if I do have a question, I know I can always call the Early Intervention program and ask for advice (or worst case scenario, research it online).
FF: Give us one tool you would hate to live without.
MW: This may seem a bit odd, but I'd hate to be without a television for my kids! Both of my kids are very visual learners. Without being able to show them how to do things via the TV, I think I'd be completely lost! I have this wonderful line of DVDs that show kids on the spectrum how to behave on the playground or at a doctor's office. They also go over routines for bedtime and saying different phrases when you need something. These DVDs, and many other educational types of videos, have been a real life saver for me!
FF: If you could give one piece of advice to another parent who's child has just been diagnosed, what would it be?
MW: Autism is a beginning, not an end! And in no way is autism a death sentence! I remember when I first received my daughter's diagnosis and how completely devastated I was that there was no explanation or cure for it. Eventually, I learned that just because my child has autism, doesn't mean they can't live a full and happy life. It's up to me as the parent, the person who knows my child best, to find those things that will best help them reach their full potential. There are many people who can help you and many more who have walked in your shoes; you are NOT alone! Simply reach out for help so that you can help your child. Your child needs you; don't give up!
Margie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and all the readers here at Fun and Function.
If you would like to be a featured parent or professional, just let me know!