Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Questions I Ask Myself Before We Go Somewhere as a Special Needs Family


I love this picture of Jordan. I love it because she is such a cool chick and her love for crawfish is strong. I love it because it was her 19th birthday. I love it because we went as a full family to someone's house and made it through the entire party. 

We don’t often go to friends' houses as a family. Well, truth be told we really never go to friend's houses as a family. I hate to say it, but it's mostly our own fault. Jacob struggles with going inside people’s homes. I'm not sure why. He is ok in restaurants and public spaces, but in someone’s home…not so much. His anxiety goes through the roof as he frantically runs from room to room opening doors and cabinets. We hold on to him, but the moment we let go, an escape is inevitable, and he always find his way into the master bedroom. It’s a full invasion of privacy. We’ve only had it happen a couple times and that was more than enough for us to know we never wanted to make friends uncomfortable like that again. So, we typically say no to those events. It’s made us feel very isolated. I know so many families that feel the same. IT IS HARD.

Recently, we had some friends invite us over for a crawfish boil. Instantly I started thinking of the things that could go wrong. What if he does something inappropriate…takes off his pants, makes loud noises at their kids, tries to run into their bedroom? How will I handle it and more importantly how will they? Or the big question…Will I be able to relax?  We often talk ourselves out of things because we know one of us will be chasing and stressing and not able to enjoy it. So, we cancel or we go separately and then I worry if that’s rude. But the biggest thing I wonder before we go somewhere is if they will accept our “normal”?  Ultimately, is this someone that we can trust?

It's important for us to know that we can trust their reactions to the unexpected. It’s important for us to trust that they will accept him and us, even after our type of “different” occurs. The problem with that was that we weren’t giving people a chance for a while. Maybe it’s a protective thing. I am wildly protective of our family. Maybe it’s a comfort thing, I don’t want my friends to be embarrassed and I don’t want our family to be embarrassed. Whatever it was, we would often say no.

I am so glad we said yes this time. I am thankful we gave it another chance. Cret and I had a pep talk in the van before we went in. I told him that I couldn’t believe we were trying this and I was scared it would be a disaster. He laughed and told me it probably would be, but we needed to try. The minute we walked in, Jacob began pulling me wanting to explore and for a split second, fear overcame me. However, I was able to calm him down and give him some motivation to relax.  It turned out to be a really fun time without many issues, although he did run into the master bedroom when I let my guard down. But guess what? Our friend was gracious and understanding.  Another friend came up to him and spoke to him in only a way that a disability family member would. She shared about a loved one close to her that had special needs. It made me feel so good.

I guess I just wanted to share this because it would’ve been so easy to say no or to make up an excuse, but I am so glad that we didn’t. I am glad that we trusted our friends and gave it a shot. We left and looked at each other with huge smiles. What a victory for our family! Sure, we had to bribe Jacob with a big toy, but he managed to stay pretty calm because he knew he was getting that toy. We all enjoyed a day at someone else’s house and God showed me that maybe it was time to start trusting people. I know there will be times where we are let down, but just like with anything in life it is worth trying again. The hard experiences only make the good ones so much sweeter.

Friend, if you are isolating due to the fear of rejection or embarrassment or unease, I encourage you to give it another shot and then give it another shot and then give it another shot after that. After Covid, I think all people can relate to how lonely and sad isolation feels. Friends are such a good gift from God. I pray you find the people you can trust with your family’s “normal”.