I got published! It's not really a huge deal for anyone but me. I was asked by a school my husband is on the board of to do one of the articles for their bi-monthly column. I was excited to say yes, and this is what came out. I got the electronic version today...and decided to post it here tonight for those who won't get the little local flier mag in their mailbox. It was just cool to see it...I tried to be practical and write something useful...so I hope it blesses someone! :)
AroundAbout Cumming Magazine:
Do you want to be the object of good cheer this holiday season? If you have a friend that has a child with special needs, I can let you in on a few secrets (from personal experience!) on how to bless them and give them the gift of peace this year.
Remind your friends that you like them independent of their parenting position. Oftentimes, we get so overrun with the care of our child that we forget to take care of ourselves and that we have a separate identity. Schedule coffee or a low pressure shopping day with your friend or bring outside to them. Bring a movie, fun drink,bright wrapping paper with “real” bows, and old Christmas cards or card stock to make gift labels…the togetherness of doing something fun and cheery can bring a sense of rapport outside of the nitty-gritty of everyday.
There are many holiday parties, shopping, and cooking days left in the year. As a parent of a child with special needs, I know firsthand how difficult it is to get these things done and, even more, how very difficult it is to hire a babysitter. The complexity of finding a babysitter that we trust and is available, is above and beyond simply finding an available teen. We need someone who is equal to and aware of the safety issues our situation necessitates. Most of us would feel comfortable with a “regular” adult, but because we know that you are busy during this season, we will, in all likelihood, refrain from asking you. But we would be thrilled to accept your offer.
Many churches have programs and support already set up, with a special class for those with special needs or simply an available shadow to assist your child in a regular class. If your church does not, now might be the time to set up an “As Needed” program. Having about 10 to 12 people, who would be willing to commit a Sunday of their time once a quarter or 2 or 3 times a year, would be an excellent start. Put a sign-upopportunity in your bulletin, and certainly include the youth. High school and college aged young people will be equal to the task in most situations, as long as you have them in a “shadow” position, they have an idea of what is expected, and who to contact in an emergency. If you have an “On Call” Sunday schedule, and the rotation does not “expect” the same people every week, the response is typically very positive. The ability to worship without the constant pressure of being permanently “on” for my own child is such a respite and a gift that cannot be equaled by anything you could wrap up with a bow.
The ideas shared are not just for this busy holiday season. Simply take out the holiday and add the everyday friendship-you will certainly be helping your friend in more ways than you ever expected.
For more practical ideas, read Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched By Disability by Stephanie O. Hubach.