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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

From One Mom to Another: Advice for Children with Autism & ADHD

Before the Holidays I sent out requests for article suggestions. The main request was for information and advice about raising children at different ages. I spoke with many of the wonderful Moms I know and requested their insight and contribution. Today's post is from one of the most dedicated and wonderful Moms I know. She has taken the challenges presented to her and worked tirelessly to do everything possible to provide the help and guidance to nurture her children. 

If you or someone you know has a family member with autism and/ or ADHD, I hope this Mom's experience and candid advice will help them find the strength and courage to be the best Mom possible. I hope you will find this post helpful & comforting.

By Gretta Bakewell, Mother of 3

These days, it is safe to say that everyone has heard about autism and ADHD, whether in the media, or through someone they know who has a loved one with one of these conditions.

I am a mom of 3 children, aged 7 through 14; one has autism spectrum disorder, and one has ADHD. It has certainly been a journey I never expected to find myself on and has been more challenging than any job I’ve ever held or the university degree I earned. But it has taught me so much about life and how to look for the silver linings all around. I won’t spend time here to list signs or symptoms - you can find books or websites for this - but instead I’ll share information from one mom to another, on what to do if you suspect something is not quite “right” with your child.

Trust your instincts if you are noticing your child is not reaching “milestones”, while of course realizing that each child is unique and has their own timing. Don’t waste time in denial or an overly stretched out “let’s wait and see” approach. It’s important to be proactive and get a second opinion from your family doctor or pediatrician.

Perhaps you’ve noticed delays in your child’s speech development, physical coordination, social abilities, self-regulation (ability to deal with stressors), impulse control, mood issues, learning or reading challenges, or other concerns. If the issue is not really noticeable the day you see your doctor and more evidence is needed to convince him/her of your concerns, make notes, videotape your child, go to your local children’s development centre; get a second opinion.

Don’t give up, you are your child’s only advocate, you are his/her voice, and you are the only one who can put into motion the help and support he/she might need.

The main advice I got from friends who had walked the walk before me and from child service providers was to remember: This journey is a marathon, not a sprint - pace yourself so as not to burn out. Also, make sure you heed the flight attendant’s advice of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, before putting it on your child. You need to ensure you are functioning well in order to take on the load of extra responsibilities that come with this journey.

So what does my oxygen mask consist of? It means a healthy lifestyle of good sleep, lots of walks in nature, healthy food, creative hobbies, a good support system – a proactive spouse, understanding friends, family, my church - and lots of prayer.
It’s important to accept that your child, like every child, will develop at their own pace; don’t rush them or try to make them fit your own preconceived schedule or agenda . Persevere in trying different techniques. Be creative in your approaches, every child has a different way of learning and succeeding. Every one of us has strengths and weaknesses, help your child learn what their giftings are and how to manage the necessary life skills that might be challenging.
Know that you are never alone and that there is always hope. I’ve learned that by keeping perservance, patience, unconditional love and optimism close to your heart, our children will grow into the amazing people they were created  to be!

Gretta Bakewell is a dedicated Mother of 3, living in beautiful Salmon Arm, BC. This is her first contributing article for TPB. 

Image Source: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/1c/e6/f7/1ce6f7a4938098b40fd73009db6d854e.jpg