Life on One Side of the Spectrum

I am the mother of a child with Autism and ADHD. Parenting a child with special needs during a global pandemic is taxing. To demonstrate this, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what our schedule looked like this past Spring. Granted, I will not document all of the behaviors which occur because they vary daily. However, when you see how long it takes us to do something like getting ready for the day, this will perhaps give you a bit more clarity as to why this season of life is difficult (keep in mind my husband and I work full-time, have two other children, and must supervise our child with special needs during each task listed below):

7:00AM-7:45AM: wake-up, go potty, get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair

7:45AM-8:15AM: pick out breakfast, eat breakfast, distribute vitamins and supplements

8:15AM-8:45AM: unstructured play

8:45AM-9:15AM: check-in with teacher

9:15AM-10:15AM: school work part 1

10:15AM-10:30AM: snack break

10:30AM-11:15AM: Zoom with Special Education Teacher

11:15AM-12:15PM: lunch and art time

12:15PM-12:45PM: Zoom with Paraprofessional

12:45PM-1:45PM: free play

1:45PM-2:45PM: school work part 2 (maybe—if we get to it?)

I tell you all of this not for sympathy, but so you might gain insight as to why programs like Joni & Friends are so important. Global pandemic aside, parenting kiddos with special needs is both delightful and exhausting. Although we receive extra support from folks at school online, it is so difficult for our kids not to physically see people in person. A lot of what our kids need is physical. Our kiddo with Autism, for example, requires a lot of squeezes, sensory toys, equipment, etc.—and while these resources exist at home, special educators and therapists are better equipped to help with these needs while learning.

Because of my personal experience, I looked forward to partnering with Joni & Friends Family Camp @ Home. I know I am not the only parent to a child with special needs who misses connecting with people and enjoying respite. Joni & Friends Family Camp @ Home was like a little slice of heaven. Here are some quotes from our families of people with special needs  reflecting on their family camp experience:

“Once again, we were truly blessed by Joni & Friends Family Retreat and our Short-Term Missionaries. Although it was unlike the typical camp, we were lavished with the love of Jesus throughout. We took time to wonder at the beauty of His creation, at the amazing miracles recorded in scripture and at the incredible gift of His life to save ours.”

“Family Retreat @ Home brought new life into our home. We have been really run down lately and our STMs were like fresh air and really gave their all to our kids. The gift of a date night was wonderful! Honestly, the experience couldn’t have been any better. I felt like not only were our Short Term Missionaries a great match to our kids, but also to us! We now have new friends and are looking forward to having their family over.”

“You have no idea how excited we were to have you come. We have been at our house, without really any visitors for almost 5 months. It just feels so wonderful to have someone to talk to, who cares and we know prays for us.”

It’s difficult to capture the joy and relief Family Camp @ Home brought to families of people with special needs. However, I think it’s important to know every dollar you gave made a difference. We families of people with special needs are used to therapists, school services, support staff members, etc. Needless to say, connecting with more people who are safely apart of our lives right now? Well, it’s nothing short of wonderful. 

With a Grateful Heart,

Tone Waters, Director of GO & Communications