Since being thrown into this chaotic experience of isolation, I have been doing my best to be of service to parents and carers to help them navigate these uncharted waters. So many have this shared feeling of uncertainty which they are coming to terms with themselves. What’s really interesting to me is that I’ve heard the same guilty cry from so many parents who are struggling right now.
“Gwen, I feel so guilty. I haven’t done any schooling with my SEN kids. They will never catch up!”
As if parents of neuro-divergent kiddos didn’t have enough on their plates, they are now adding a guilty conscience for ruining their child’s entire educational experience! When we live in a state of anxiety, we often catastrophize. It is such a natural reaction for it to happen now as well. Let’s take a second and talk truth.
We are all figuring it out gas we go.
There is no road map here. As ND parents, we are used to having to create our own maps for our unique kiddos, but at least we have a typical map to start with! The entire world is doing their best to remain sane whilst protecting their child’s emotional well-being. As stressful as all of this ambiguity is for most of us, we know that our ND kiddos are really swimming in fear. It is ok to not know how to do this. It is ok to change things multiple times until you find what feels right for your family…even if you have a child that struggles with change. You can do more tomorrow.
Are your child’s basic needs being met?
This is your first marker. Is your family fed, sheltered, clothed, well and safe? If you have done that so far, you are doing just fine. Please remember that it’s only really been 2 weeks of isolation for most of us. If you are working from home, that system needs to be in place before you can even think about educating your unique kiddo. Even if you don’t, you have to manage all of the anxieties that come with sudden, substantial change that feels so painful to our ND kiddos. Focus on the basics before you guilt yourself into learning specialist teaching skills in under 12 hours.
How much learning is happening for neuro-typical students?
Let me tell you something, very little if any learning is happening in homes across the UK right now. Sure, we can try to maintain current knowledge, but teachers are having to learn new systems for curriculum delivery before they can teach their students new skills. Add to that, your child usually has an accommodated version of what their neuro-typical peers are learning. Noone has had time to put that together. Whilst reading, times tables and spelling will be constants in most homework packs, you know this already. Focus on reading to, with and from your kids. This will bring a familiarity that they crave as well as keep those minds sharp. Don’t forget, audiobooks count as reading for our ND kiddos.
The Education System will adjust for this.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, thousands upon thousands of students were displaced from regular education for months. They not only lost their schools, they had to cope with losing their homes as well along with the terrifying effects of surviving a natural disaster. They also returned to communities that looked far different than the ones they left. It is now 25 years later. Those children are now teachers and doctors and lawyers and parents and bankers. They have been able to come from a traumatic childhood into a successful adulthood. Some of these even had to do all of this whilst being an ND kiddo! The system will find a way to adjust for this temporary blip. You don’t have to figure that out. You simply have to do your best.
You are doing just fine.
I often have to remind parents of this. Your best is good enough. You can course correct at any point. If you want your best to be better, start from where you are and move forward. It does no good beating yourself up about some arbitrary standard you feel you did not meet from yesterday. When your children look back on this, they are not going to remember their spelling lists, times tables and history facts. They are going to remember how they felt. You want them to feel safe and loved. You can start from now building on that as long as you have a firm foundation.
My Great-Grandma Armstrong used to have a mantra that she shared whenever something was happening that wasn’t going according to plan. “Remember who you are and do the best you can.” Remember that you are the best parent/carer for your child. You are enough. You are doing just fine. Now, go do the best you can.