Summer Priorities for Special-Needs Families

I feel so conflicted in summer!  I love it and yet... I don't always.

Summer Exuberance

I love the warm weather. My husband hates heat and I'm sad for him. I hate to be cold, though, so the warm weather is a promise for me. No more trying and failing to be warm enough. But it's not just the heat. Spring into summer is such an extravagant time! The plants and animals compete with exuberance. Suddenly, the grass is at your knees and there are flying creatures everywhere (I hate bugs though...). Colors burst from every corner and the sounds of nature can almost seem to roar. This time of year is a constant reminder of God's limitless supply.

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Summer Overwhelm

That limitless supply leads to a seemingly limitless stream of activities. I know, it's not limitless. Truth be told, it's only a few small adjustments in the typical schedule. A vacation here, a camp there and a few special activities. And yet, it quickly feels chaotic and intense. I become overwhelmed, and that does not bode well for kids with autism, anxiety and sensory processing issues.

What happens when I become overwhelmed? I do what all moms of special kids do. I become more controlling. I'm hyper-vigilant on the schedule, on the movement of family members here and there and on all the precautions needed to prevent overwhelm. I'm becoming more overwhelmed by the second as I clamp down to prevent things from spinning out of control.

That strategy fails in 1 week flat and I remember what's needed. Integration.

Only One Thing

One of the basic principles that saves my sanity as an autism mommy is idea that though all this feels like many competing priorities, it is really just one thing.

That was the conversation Jesus was having with Martha that day.

Luke 10:38 Jesus continued from there toward Jerusalem and came to another village. Martha, a resident of that village, welcomed Jesus into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, went and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. 40 Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha(interrupting Jesus):Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Jesus:41 Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, 42 but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her. (The Voice)

Now, I really understand Martha's point of view. The ever widening developmental gaps and the increasing list of goals and strategies and tools, plus the plethora of ways to meet those goals and execute those strategies in the summer. There's a lot to do!!!

So what's the one thing?

The sanity saver for me was to realize that the one thing is a beautiful relationship with my kids that helps them to prioritize peace in their bodies as they love God and love people. That's it. It helps with sensory regulation, anxiety support, social interactions and so much more. When I target the separate goals, I feel stretched. When I see the one thing, I feel anchored and grounded, and by some miracle, so much more gets done. Peacefully.

What's your one thing this summer?

Faith coaches, consults, and creates experiences that help others sustain clear, strategic action. She’s co-founder of Melody of Autism, which helps ASD families thrive. She coaches autism mompreneurs on holistic strategic clarity that integrates autism mom life and business. She’s author of Parenting Like a Ninja, an autism mom’s guide to professional productivity, and can be found at faithclarke.com and AutasticBizMoms.club