One of my favorite things to share about Exceptional Lives is that people access our resources the most between the hours of 10PM and 2AM.
When I learned this fact, I nodded in agreement and immediately recalled many nights pulling out the computer or squinting at the bright phone in the dark to search for my own answers. Often the questions were specific: How do I keep him in his carseat if he keeps unbuckling? How do I explain autism to my family? Is the school legally required to provide transportation to school? Why don’t time-outs work? How much sleep do I really need?
As parents and caregivers, we are forever searching for answers to be sure we’re doing all we can to make our lives and the lives of our children the best they can be. As I look back on my own experiences, I see that I wasn’t just looking for the answer to my question; I was also searching for a connection to others with the same question. It’s helpful to know that there is another parent, another grandparent, or another teacher struggling with the same question or figuring out the same complicated and confusing process.
The acknowledgement that I was not walking this life alone is powerful.
Maybe I’ll find a great suggestion or “hack” for my carseat struggles. If it works, awesome! But even if it doesn’t, I find solace in the fact that I’m not alone. My child is not alone. And even though I’ve doubted myself, I’m not a terrible parent. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who has trouble figuring out how to apply for government funding.
Late at night, searches online bring me to directories, blogs, chats, and resources; through them I find my community. Many others have received a new diagnosis and had no idea what it meant. Many have heard terms like “SSI”, “IEP”, “504”, “ABA” and wondered what they mean. Answers are there, but they are hard to find. And when the hours are short, we forget to open envelopes and we skim long websites. We need to lean on those who have walked this walk ahead of us and those that have made sense of the complicated processes. We need a guide to point us in the right direction and we will go forward with more confidence.
As it turns out, “normal” is relative, development is ever-changing, parenting is hard, and communities lift us up. We created the Exceptional Lives community because we’ve been there and we’ve searched for our own answers. And now we are committed to providing you with the information you need in a way that is easy to understand at 1AM. Because as I’ve learned from my Google searches, we all need more sleep.