There are several different types of special needs that seem to run in my family. Add this to my background in education, and the result is that I have found myself checking my sibling’s children for signs that they have a special need. If I had children of my own, I’d be checking them for signs, too.
I’ve always heard it said that becoming a parent changes your life in ways that aren’t always so easy to articulate to those of us who are childless. For example, I have had someone tell me that after you become a parent, you start to notice the dangers that are present in this world, in your neighborhood, and in your home, much more than you ever did before you had a child.
If I were to become a parent, I would expect to experience that same sort of “sea change”. What I didn’t expect, though, was to see things differently now that my siblings are becoming parents.
There are several types of special needs that run in my family. One of my siblings has an autism spectrum disorder. Many relatives had ADHD. I am among the family members who have severe allergies. This is just off the top of my head, and within my immediate family. Travel farther through my family tree, and you will see more special needs appear.
Now, I find myself checking my niece and nephews for signs that they may have one, or more, of the special needs that run through my family. I check to make sure that they are making eye contact when they talk to their parents, that they aren’t “stimming”, and that they don’t have strongly negative reactions to a specific kind of texture. In the back of my mind, I worry that my niece or nephews could be exhibiting symptoms of autism.
I watch to see if any of them develop welts or rashes after eating certain foods. How often does the child have what I call “allergy face” in the photos I see of family vacations? Little kids are often easily distracted, and tend to have a somewhat shorter attention span than adults do. I worry that this distraction, or inability to sit still, could be an early sign of ADHD.
So far, none of my nephews or niece have had any signs of ADHD or an autism spectrum disorder. Unfortunately, one of my nephews does have allergies and asthma, poor little guy. One of my siblings has a baby on the way, and I’m certain I will be checking for signs of special needs again, when the baby is born.
Image by Picture Perfect Pose on Flickr