Roller Coaster of Emotions: A Grandmother’s Story ​

Written by: Lora Cothern 

Being a caregiver to a special needs child can be an emotional roller coaster ride.         

As a grandmother raising a 10-year-old boy who is non-verbal and severely autistic, I know first hand what a task it is to provide him with the care and support he needs.

As anyone who has raised an autistic child can attest, the journey comes with many challenges. The constant need for attention, the struggle to communicate his needs, and the never-ending search for suitable treatments and therapies can be overwhelming. However, the most challenging part of raising my grandson is the roller-coaster ride of emotions that comes with it.

One of the most profound emotions we feel is love. It is the love that motivates us to care for our special needs child, despite how challenging it can be. We love them unconditionally and pray for a better tomorrow. It’s the love that keeps us going, no matter how difficult the situation may seem. And it’s that love that we receive in exchange from our child that makes any hardship worth it. With love comes a host of other emotions. One moment we may be feeling happy and content, and the next, we may be frustrated, sad, and anxious.

 As a caregiver, we’re experienced with these ups and downs; we understand that it is essential to manage and acknowledge these emotions.

The stress and daily grind take a toll on our health and well-being, both mentally and physically. Being responsible for the care of a child with special needs can make it easy to forget to take care of ourselves. It’s essential to understand our limitations and take frequent breaks. As a caregiver, we need to identify healthy ways to manage stress, like talking to a friend or taking some time for ourselves to do an activity that brings us joy.

In addition, it’s crucial to create structure and routine for our child. A well-planned schedule helps prevent feelings of chaos and unpredictability, which may lead to aggressive behavior or frustration. Our child’s routine becomes our own, and we encourage that the time we spend with them is focused on establishing and organizing a routine that is best suited for them. We heavily rely on visual support and signs to communicate any changes in routine, which helps prevent any confusion.

Coping with the unexpected is inevitable for a caregiver. Meltdowns usually happen without warning, and our child may hurt themselves or others during this time. For the successful management of these emotions, patience and empathy are keys. When our child lacks the emotional capacity to express their feelings, we have to observe and empathize with their frustration.

In conclusion, raising a special needs child requires an abundance of love, patience, and care. While we often experience the ups and downs that come with this, we try our best to take care of ourselves, establish routines, and cope with unexpected and difficult situations successfully. It is important to recognize that no one is perfect and we are all learning as we go. At the end of the day, our child teaches us the experience of pure and unconditional love, something that is more important than anything in this world.