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May 01

Managing Special Needs in a Big Family

By Mac, Homestyle Mama (with a side of autism) Special Education Articles Add comments
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by Jess

Hi, my name is Mac and I am a stay at home mama of 5 boys, we live in St Louis, Mo. My husband, "Big Daddy", has 2 boys- Thing 1, a 17 year old bipolar rebel, and Thing 2- 16 with ADHD. I have 3 of my own. An 11 year old, Walter, who is also ADHD. Alexander the Great, 9, has severe autism and ADHD (since, you know, autism never travels alone). Goofy is the baby at 5 (and our last dose of ADHD).

It's official, today is the first day of May. May is a month full of big change. It's the end of the school year, the beginning of summer. It also seems to be the month of change in the family. Last year, this was the month Mom moved in, this year she moved out, Thing1's girl moved in and we have my brother and the Little Dementor every other week. This year Alex's step mom is around more, our oldest, Thing1, is learning to be a father and I am babysitting the grandbaby 5 days a week.

I guess I can start with last night which was a thing of pure beauty except for the fact that my house ended up destroyed and I didn't even care. Thing1's girl moving in and my brother and his son being here seems to be having a spectacular effect on Thing1 (his behavior doesn't scream "bipolar manic phase" so I can only assume the change has to do with family changes and role models). anyway, last night when Big Daddy was fixing supper I told Thing1 that the Queen had a bath that morning but with playing all day she ended up a mess again so whether or not she got a bath was up to him. I told my brother the same thing about the Little Dementor and laid out their pj's. After supper and more playing I threw Goofy, my 5 year old, in the tub. A while later I went back to wash him and Big Daddy already had it under control so I walked away. When Goofy got out the L.D. decided it was his turn, when I told his father- he jumped right on it. Thing1 decided, on his own, with no one telling him what to do, that it was time for the Queen to get a bath. I laid out her stuff so all he had to do was move her from the sink to the towels on the floor to finish her up. When I went out to the back porch to get some air while they all did their own things I could hear through the open windows the L.D. giggling wildly in the tub and Thing1 crooning to his daughter in the sink. It was a magical moment. One I wouldn't trade for the world. When I said to heck with the mess left in the wake of bath-time, I expected to wake up to toys, towels, piles of clothes and lotion bottles laying everywhere but Walter, my 11 year old, took it upon himself to pitch in. The boy's up to something, I swear it. This is the second night in a row he helped me out.

This month, this week, is also Alex's little sister's debut into the world of Early Childhood Special Education. Her IEP meeting is set for Friday, which, when I approved the date and agreed to go with Alex's step mom to help her out, Mom was here and I had a babysitter. I told Thing1 and his girl that I couldn't babysit that day and was reassured it wouldn't be a problem because I don't babysit on Friday's anyway. Now that has all changed and when I realized it this morning, I started to freak then decided, I can do this. The IEP meeting is at an ECSE center. where they are used to small children. and Sister is going too because Mommy doesn't have a babysitter either. If it's the same spot we had the last meeting, there's a play area a few steps away which has toys the Queen won't choke on.

This month is the end of the school year and beginning of summer. This summer is going to be different because I have the Queen 5 days a week plus the L.D. every other week. Usually, we spend a good chunk of time at the river with Thing2, (our 16 year old) taking charge of the Goofy child and Walter while I coax Alex into the water and convince him it's quite enjoyable. With extra small children and not enough eyes and hands, that's not going to be happening so we need a new plan. This summer is also Goofy's last summer as a baby (for real this time, we have a diagnosis of ADHD-NOS to get him supports in school this time around). He will start Kindergarten in the fall (again) with the neighbor girl.

This month also completes Alex's (ADHD combined type/severe autism) first year at the separate school for the severely handicapped. He has made a lot of progress this year and I credit that to the school as well as his wonderful teacher and ABA aide. They have worked hard with him. He is able to walk the halls without having someone hold him, he's drinking out of a big boy cup, he has calmed down so much, his concerning behaviors have significantly decreased if not disappeared all together.

Along with the sense of accomplishment and pride the month of change has brought is a sense of sadness for the end of some things. Thing1 is graduating High School, working full time, being a father. His girl has moved out of her parents' house and decided it's time to strike out on her own. She's looking for a place of their own, a life that she builds for her baby. They are adults now, no longer children, no longer teenagers. Thing2 is turning 17, the year of transitioning to adulthood. Walter is now a pre-teen, his childhood is over. Alexander is hitting the double digits- the big 1-0. Goofy's preschool-aged days are numbered and he will soon be a big boy going to school alone. The Little Dementor's toddler days are gone, he is now preschool-aged at 4. The Queen's infancy has come and gone, in June she will be a year old. For every ending is a new beginning but that doesn't change the fact that there is a bittersweet ending and concern about our children's futures. At this point, all I can do is know I have done my best so far, let those days go and focus on today. I can enjoy the people they are now and keep hope for the people they will be.

You can follow Mac's adventures and her whole family at her blog - http://homestyle-mama.blogspot.com/

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One Response to “Managing Special Needs in a Big Family”

  1. I love this! I grew up in a large family with a myriad of disabilities, and this post just brought me back! I love how the author managed to take joy in the bath time moment and was able to put into words that wonderful feeling of finding your calm in the chaos! Beautiful!

    I’m sure she’ll have a wonderful May!

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