Listen here to a moving commentary by a National Public Radio listener, Jennifer Hendrick, about how she deals with other parent's reactions to the behavior of her son on the autism spectrum.
Jennifer talks poignantly about something we don't hear about in IEP meetings - the impact of loneliness in the lives of people with disabilities and those who care for them. Professionals who work with our families don't always talk about loneliness either, or the importance of relationships for our kids.
David Pitonyak is one exception, he believes our children are often lonely and that it is very important that we build their relationships with family members and community members - that we have people in their lives who are NOT just paid caregivers or teachers. I encourage you to read a few of his articles on the importance of belonging.
Sayer loves to hear a list of people who love him in his life. We do this while he is lying under his weighted blanket while I squeeze him in the mornings, to help calm him down before school. I squeeze him while singing "So and so loves Sayer, so and so loves Sayer" as in "Mom loves Sayer, Dad loves Sayer, Jacob loves Sayer." I continue on to name relatives, friends friend's parents, teachers, and so on. If I forget any he reminds me, and he looks right at me and is so engaged during the whole list. I can tell it means so much for him to know there are many people in the world who love him.
What role does loneliness play in your family? Do you think that society isolates us and our children? How have you built relationships?
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