‘I hung up my hat as a stay-at-home mom and outsourced my children’s needs to people more capable than myself.’: Mom to children with autism says ‘hope is equally as contagious as a virus’

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“Both of my children have autism.

Which means both of my children thrive only because of therapy, schedules, and ongoing daily education. All of which have been put on pause due to the Coronavirus.

The idea of the backslide they’re about to experience would bring any mother to their knees.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

Before my children were born, I decided I would be a stay-at-home mom. But as my daughter and son revealed their extra needs, I instinctively knew what they would require to thrive was beyond my bandwidth.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and educators are the mighty among that. I hung up my hat as a stay-at-home mom and outsourced my children’s needs to people more capable than myself. To say this was a humbling move—knowing others were more equipped to care for my children than myself—would be accurate.

To say it was the best move for my family would also be correct. The progress we’ve seen has been nothing short of a miracle.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

Now here we are in self-isolation, living in unprecedented times.

As I scroll through social media, I see other mothers preparing for battle: Bringing out crafts, and chalk, and making lesson plans with smiles on their faces. And here I am, frightened—and if I’m being completely honest—angry.

Because special needs children require more than online learning. How will we function without PT gyms, feeding sessions, and speech therapists? How will we give them everything they need while still under quarantine?

Well, here’s a few things I know for sure about special needs parenting:

– Special needs parents are made of steel. We bend, we do not break.

– Special needs families are well-versed in unexpected news.

If your child has a diagnosis, you know what it’s like to live in the ‘after.’ In the period time where life was coasting by, then suddenly chaotic.

And because of this, you have a leg up on the rest of the population right now. You know the secret to survival is that we just continue to show up for our children. Even as ill-experienced and unequipped as we feel, we show up and learn right along with them.

– Circumstances change

Remember those periods of no progress when it felt like every milestone was out of reach? Remember how awesome it was when your child finally inched toward that goal? It happened in their own time and this situation is no different.

We’re in a holding pattern, but we’ve been here before. We can withstand the stagnation because we know circumstances change, and if we’re lucky, so do we. There’s value in the valleys just as much as the peaks.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

I don’t know when our children will return to school or when our therapy centers will open again, and if I focus too much on the unknown panic takes over my parenting. But ‘equally as contagious as a virus is hope. I’ve held onto it through every appointment and evaluation and I’m certainly clinging tight now.

Our children may have lost valued members of their village right now, but they haven’t lost their leader. Their most trusted witness. The person who knows every haircut and lost tooth.

We’ve been in the pit of anger, confusion, and frustration before, and we’ve still found our way out. Because if there’s anything else I know for sure it’s that each day as you navigate the unknown it gets easier.

Courtesy Stephanie Hanrahan

We may not feel as equipped or enthusiastic as some, but we are their parents.

And right now, those are the only credentials we need.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hanrahan. Follow Stephanie on Facebook here, Instagram here and visit her website here. The article originally appeared hereDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Stephanie here: 

‘All I wanted was a rotisserie at Costco. Instead, I almost lost a limb.’: Mom says to remember during coronavirus ‘we’re all in this together’

‘You have the perfect family.’ That’s what they saw. A life tied up in a pretty little bow. No one could’ve known what was happening behind closed doors.’: Mom discusses life with 2 special needs children

‘My Son’s teacher recently friended me on social media. I came upon a picture of her holding a chalkboard sign that read, ‘I said YES!’ She’s already married, so it struck me as odd.’

‘My husband and I took a trip. It was our first vacation together in 2 years. Long before his heart, and our world, stopped.’

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