I just got off the phone with my sister and am feeling a bit blue. She is really struggling and I wish I could do something to help. Her son also has SPD, along with motor planning problems, auditory and visual processing problems, etc. He has made enormous progress, but now that he has started first grade, he is struggling with school. My sister is understandably overwhelmed: she works full-time as a social worker, has two kids, takes care of the house and all the requisite mothering responsibilities.
What is really getting her down, though, is not just the problems her son is having now, but what he might potentially struggle with in the future. She has read articles that discuss the many emotional problems kids with learning disabilities deal with and the fact that they often turn to alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and even crime. My sister is beside herself with worry. And now I am a bit worried myself.
I tried to reassure her, but she really wasn't in a place to accept what I was saying. I think she just needed to vent. She claims that she doesn't want to be comforted, because she is afraid that will lead her to complacency and she feels like she cannot let her guard down for a moment or her son may not get all the help he needs. I am different in this respect; I need to feel like there is hope and that all the therapy and activities we do with Danny make a difference. I don't like to feel that disaster is inevitable.
I know it is true that Danny may in the future struggle with self-esteem issues due to his sensory problems, especially if he has problems in school. And of course that concerns me. But, then again, I have struggled with self-esteem issues my entire life and I did quite well in school. Luckily, I never did anything truly self-destructive as a teen, though I definitely have my share of regrets (mostly in the form of who I chose to date and how I let them treat me). I know plenty of people who had no learning problems, people who life actually came really easily to, who ended up destroying everything with drugs and crime. So, I really don't think this is specific to kids with learning problems. Truthfully, it scares me to death that one of my children could end up turning to drugs, but I have to believe that I can make a difference. I may not be able to control their choices, but I know that all I do as their mother now affects their choices in the future, right? Right?
Am I naive to believe that if I love my children and do my very best to show and teach them that they are loved and worthwhile people this will help? I just have to believe that if I teach them that God loves them and that they can turn to Him they will be ok, even if they make heartbreaking decisions. If I teach them to respect themselves and others, and help them have opportunities to develop their talents, surely this will help them develop self-esteem. Maybe this is really old-fashioned, but I am clinging to the belief that if my husband and I spend a lot of quality time with our children, they will know they can come to us with their problems as teens. I am not totally deluded, though. I know there will be plenty they don't share with me, but I just cannot focus on that right now.
I don't really know what my point here is. I guess I just needed to let some of this out after my phone conversation. I wonder what you think of all this. Really, these concerns must be pretty much universal. What mother doesn't worry that her child will do drugs or get mixed up in the wrong crowd and make devastating choices? What mother isn't concerned with helping her child develop healthy self-esteem? The question is when do you just have to have faith in what you are doing and that it makes a difference? When do you just have to put those terrible worries out of your head and focus on the joy of being with your child?