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10 Things I've Learned From Being a Special Needs Parent

10. Keep your judge-y panties in check. I can’t tell you how many times my son, Timothy, and I have been victims of judgmental eyes. And until it happened to us, I had no idea how it felt. It sucks, people. Please don’t stare at my child when he is lying on the floor in Wal-Mart or flapping at the lunchmeat in the deli case at Zehrs.

9. Keep your parenting advice to yourself. For reals! Nine times out of 10 that mom and/or dad are doing the best damn job they can. They have taken hundreds of hours of “Parent Learning” courses. They spend every spare minute working with that kid. The wringer? They’ve been through it. It’s likely they’ve heard what you have to say already several times. It’s offensive, so please don’t. (I say this with love).

8. Live for the moment. Those dishes? They’re not going anywhere. Neither is the laundry. As long as you have clean underwear for the day, you’re good. A clean house will have to wait, ’cause my kid won’t. Let it go.

7. The meaning of ABA, IEP, IBI, TAC, OT, PT and the principal’s phone number by heart. (Insert eye roll here, please)

6. The short bus is awesome! It comes right to our drive way. Less work for me. Roll on, short bus, roll on. You rule.

5. Milestones are overrated and not made for every kid. Timothy still wears diapers and he is almost 7 years old. He just started to feed himself this year with a spoon. We had a party! Make up your own rules, and don’t conform to society’s. You’ll be so glad you did.

4. Learn to appreciate the little things. Peeing on the toilet warrants a trip to McDonald’s for fries around these parts. When my son said, “I love you” for the first time at 5 years old, I wept with joy and gratitude.

3. Respite care is awesome. We’re lucky enough to score 6.75 hours of one-on-one for Timothy each month. Yes, I love him, but having a shower alone is a gift from above!

2. Stop taking yourself so seriously. I live in sweats. I rarely have time to put on makeup, so brushed teeth and clean hair is what it is. If there’s time to sleep and clean the house, it’s a special day. I’ve lost friends along the way but made way more.

1. Don’t be afraid of different. Get to know different. You may be surprised at how incredibly awesome different is. I know I was.

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This post originally appeared on The Book of Timothy.

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