First of all I’m not going to pretend to be the expert on this topic. Really I can only talk about my limited personal experience. If you have a kiddo on the autism spectrum dating may be the last thing on your mind if you are single or even if you are not. If your child has significant disabilities just getting through the day sometimes may be the very best you can do. BUT Sometimes at night when (if) your little prince/princess is sleeping it may cross your mind (dating that is). So you start scrolling through dating sighting sights like scrolling through recipe sights when your on a diet or looking at size 4 clothing when your a size 14 realizing you will probably never make the triple chocolate cake , or wear the size 4 clothing but it never hurts to look RIGHT ? After several years of being on my own I never even dreamed of answering a dating sight ad or reaching out to another single until one day I saw a profile, I looked at this persons profile several times ,really I just enjoyed reading it. He was into hiking, gardening and camping, he liked off grid stuff and showed pictures of himself standing on top of a mountain with his hands held high in the air smiling. He was a Christian. He seemed to be my kind of people and the best part or maybe the scariest part is he lived just a few miles away from me. So after several failed attempts I finally built up the guts to send him a message. I had gotten messages from other people in the past, the second I mentioned my little guy had autism the messages ended, so my expectation at the most was maybe I would make a new friend. That was a few months ago , I wrote about it my blog posts The Secret and The Secret Part 2 . Guess what ! He is still around and we are the best of friends and even more than friends ! Yes trying to develop a new relationship when you have a child with special needs is a challenge so I’m going to share my wisdom in our success up until now.
For The Parent
I really believe the online venue was a good way to meet some one initially. It was a good way to get to know what his beliefs and values were and for him to get to know me separate from my child. In person my son can be all inclusive and my guy may have never had the opportunity to get to know me on the same level. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other via messages and then more time over the phone before finally meeting. It is hard to find a babysitter for my little guy and disruptive to his schedule if we do . We took our time to get to know each other before introducing little guy into the scene. In getting to know each other I found that I talked incessantly about my little mr and our challenges, though a new love interest needs to get a good clear picture of those things they also need to get a good clear picture of who you are aside from your role as a parent. That was hard for me to separate and continues to be hard for me as my little guys challenges and hard fought successes is such a big part of my life. Another thing to keep in mind in including a new person in you and your child’s life is they may have no experience with individuals with special needs so you need to give them a little room to figure it out without inundating them with them with the rules and schedules or the “this is how we always do things” speech. The first time my guy put kiddo on the back of his snowmobile and zoomed out through the woods with him, my stomach flipped ! I stood there pacing back and forth wondering what the outcome would be, what behaviors would result and if they did what my new guy would do. The end results ? My little guy and my new guy now both share a love for snowmobiling ! So parents I know you spend a bunch of your life advocating and protecting your child but this time do it a bit differently by advocating for a positive relationship for your child and someone that could potentially be special in their lives as well. In the end don’t expect your new bae to be an expert, they aren’t going to be, they may even have some different ideas or perspectives, don’t dismiss them even if you have tried it, have a conversation about his or hers ideas and thoughts and try not to be critical . My little mr was struggling and has struggled his whole life with showering, he’s always afraid of getting soap in his eyes. My guy pokes his head up and says “have your tried using swim goggles ?” Six years of struggling and one idea solved the problem !! I’m not saying let your guard down entirely, we know our kiddos are at a higher risk of abuse than other kids. I’m just saying give your new love interest a chance.
Dating A Parent Of A Child With Special Needs
So you’ve met this special someone and he/she is absolutely amazing !! BUT she/he has a child with special needs. You know life would be so much easier if you were to turn and run for the hills but you just can’t get this person of your mind. What to do !! As a mom with a six year old with autism and significant barriers I can tell you one thing is for sure, your love interest is just as nervous or even more so than you are. They are in all actuality not only not looking for someone to help them with their child or save the day for them, they may even be resistant to any help at all. As a matter of fact most parents with children with special needs have learned to carry extraordinary responsibility on their own simply because they could not imagine putting it on anyone else and has probably done it alone for years. Some things to know about the characteristics of single parent of child with special needs: They have learned to become super independent as they don’t usual have a strong support group. They have developed patience of steal, the ability to leap an IEP in a single bound, work full time jobs, organize home staff, teachers meetings, doctors and childcare , all while implementing a behavior program for their kiddos while learning everything possible about their child’s diagnosis and every new treatment and study. These individuals never planned to be super people and don’t even feel like super people but they are because they know a little something about love, commitment and sticking it out with those closest to them threw better or worse. They are relationship guru’s at their best. The down side is they worry every second of every day and often suffer lots of anxiety. I can assure you if one of these individuals falls for you, they are rock solid. They can also spot a player a million miles a way, so if you are don’t waste your time. If you are authentically interested in special needs parent. Develop a relationship with them and make that your priority and let their child come to you. Read as much as you can about the child’s diagnoses just for understandings sake and if you have any questions or concerns just ask… we will glad to fill you in. Special needs parents are hidden gems but it may take a bit of time and patience to see all they have to offer.
If your are a special needs parent with dating advice I would love your imput ! If you are dating/married to a special needs parent I would love to hear any experience or advice you have to offer as well. This life can be messy. Lets do it together !