Isolation, Distancing, Learning: We’ve Been Here Before

The world has shut down. We’re under stay-at-home orders. Because of a new virus that can be fatal, we’re forced to stay home until it’s contained.

We have to stand six feet away from other people if we go anywhere. We have to homeschool our children because schools are closed until further notice. Doctor appointments and therapy are held over telemedicine video calls.

This all seems a little too familiar. I remember how hard it was being stuck inside for extended periods of time. I recall my kids having therapy every single day of the week.

Some days I felt controlled by all the therapy. I actually looked forward to the doctor appointments, because it meant I got to leave the house.

Two years ago I had three kids, 3 years old and under who completely depended on me.

My oldest son Nicholas was diagnosed with autism and was not able to walk on his own. We couldn’t go many places because of his sensitivity; we never knew if going to a new place would make him vomit.

My middle son Daniel had a lot of physical disabilities; he wore braces for his club foot most of the day, he had a colostomy bag the first year of his life, and he had trouble eating.

My daughter Grace was just a baby, but had similarities to my oldest son.

Being stuck inside and not being able to do normal things was difficult. And the feeling like I was the only parent in the world who had kids with special needs was miserable. I felt cut off from the rest of the world just like we are today. Relationships dwindled and conversations were different just like today.

My kids weren’t doing the same things that other children their ages were doing. We lived a different life.

On the rare occasion that we did go to someone’s house for a birthday or holiday, we couldn’t stay long. We needed help everywhere we went. Loud noises and unfamiliar smells made Nicholas anxious. There were behavior issues with Daniel that forced us to leave at the drop of a hat.

All three of my kids are developmentally delayed. There are times we’ve worked on milestones for months and years while other kids accomplish things with little direction.

We’ve had to teach our kids everything from crawling, sitting, standing, walking; to holding a spoon, holding a pencil, stacking blocks, cutting paper; to how to bite, chew, and swallow food. With the help from therapists of course, but nothing comes easy or natural for our kids.

We’ve been teaching them from day one.

Here we are two years later in a similar situation, though this time there are some differences. I have an almost 5-year-old who’s more independent walking on his own inside the house. Nicholas is less sensitive with certain things, hardly vomits, and is incredibly happy. Daniel at 3 years old is a bundle of energy, isn’t in pain anymore, and eats like pro. Grace just turned 2 years old, is learning how to walk, says a few words, and is learning how to feed herself.

It’s easier to go outside with all three of them. We take walks during the day and as a family at night. We’re doing all kinds of activities to keep busy from learning our letters, coloring, playing board games, doing puzzles, playing with Legos, and of course watching movies.

We do our therapy sessions over video chat which have made me feel more involved in what they’re working on. If I’m being honest, there have been times when I had no idea what they were learning.

Of course, I have my own goals for them, but their therapy sessions would get away from me sometimes. We’re doing IEP meetings and doctor appointments over video chat as well.

It’s been hard for our kids to understand what’s going on in the world. They don’t get why we can’t go to the park or why we can’t see their grandparents. They don’t know why we don’t go to the store anymore and why we wear masks out in public.

The most difficult part is that two years ago it was too hard to leave the house for our family. And now, after countless hours of therapy and months of practice we’re not allowed to go out to show off our skills. Because of their medical history, my kids would be high risk if they got sick, so we are taking this seriously and following the guidelines by not going anywhere.

We’ve been inside for four weeks. We’re learning how to be a family again. We’re slowing down. We’re not spending money. We’re not going out to eat.

We’re not rushing around. We’re not over-busy trying to do all the things.

We’re safe. With food on our table. Clothes on our backs. A roof over our heads.

Our focus is on each other instead of things that don’t matter. We’ve been through this before. And we’ll get through it just like everything else we’ve gone through.

Written by, Kate Anderson

Hi, I’m Kate Anderson. I live in Colorado with my husband and three kids. You can follow my blog at www.thisspecialjourney.com or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thisspecialjourney or Instagram @thisspecialjourney1  

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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