4 Special Needs Parenting Reminders from a Deranged Robin

Special needs parenting reminders came thick and fast when we were raising a son with major medical issues. But he overcame his health challenges, became an adult, and flew the coop long ago. These days, special needs parenting reminders arrive in strange ways.

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One example is the deranged robin who appeared on our deck as winter surrendered to spring. One morning I heard a thumping sound, like someone was tenderizing meat on the kitchen counter. But none of the cooks who live at our house were around. I shrugged, arranged my computer and materials at the table in front of the glass doors leading to our deck, and began to write. A few words into my first sentence, the thumping began again. I glanced up to see a robin smack its beak on the window glass, fall onto the deck, shake its ruffled feathers, and charge at the door again. And again. And again. All morning long.

From that day on, the deranged robin showed up as soon as the sun hit the glass doors. It attacked the door until the sun moved and the eaves cast a shadow on the glass. Between its first appearance and the solution that finally sent it packing over a week later, that deranged robin provided several special needs parenting reminders I'd like to pass along to you.

Reminder #1: The Simplest Solution Is Often Best

We assumed the robin was charging at its own reflection and piled boxes in front of the glass from the inside to block it. When that didn't work we put a deck chair in front of the glass door on the outside. Next we sent the dog out to guard the deck. The dog got bored and wandered off. We enlisted our 4-year-old grandson for the same purposes, though we posted him inside the door. He got bored and eventually wandered off, too.

Finally my husband examined the other glass door panel, the one the robin left alone. The only difference was an outside screen door–actually two screen doors, since the screen for the one the robin kept attacking had been tucked behind the other screen for the winter. My husband slid the extra screen door over the robin-pecked glass panel. Just like that, the problem was solved.

By simply observing our kids, by looking for what's different that could be causing behavior or health or learning problems, we may discover a simple solution, too. If the solution doesn't work, we can move on to the next one without wasting a lot of time or money.

Reminder #2: We May Never Know Why the Solution Works

My husband and I have no idea why his solution worked. Even so, the problem has been solved. This reminded me of times when we found ways to soothe our child or ease his pain and had no idea why our efforts worked. And that was okay because we didn't need to know why. We just needed it to work.

Reminder #3: Clouds Contain Their Own Blessings

I was hungry for sunshine this spring. But sunny days led to hours of deranged robin thumping. Not so for cloudy days. I appreciates the reprieve of cloudy days and was reminded of how our son eventually outgrew snuggles and hugs. Except when respiratory viruses kept him home from school. Then he wanted to be held and rocked. I relished those rare, fleeting times, and appreciated the blessings of less than optimal circumstances.

Reminder #4: Let Nature Do Its Thing

Our deranged robin left a lot of bird poop behind. Once we were certain it was gone, I wanted to spray the deck clean with a hose. But doing so meant asking our daughter and her family to clear everything from their patio area directly under the deck. Since rain was in the forecast I held off a few days, and the rain washed everything clean. I remembered how I wanted everything fixed immediately when our son was little. But the fastest solution wasn't always best. Often, the best solution required letting nature take its own course for his healing and restoration.

As you care for your child, I hope these special needs parenting reminders from a deranged robin make your day a little easier. Happy spring!

Written by Jolene Philo

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Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences around the country. The book she is co-authoring with Dr. Gary Chapman, Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities, will be released in August of 2019. Her blog for parents raising children with special needs and disabilities can be found at www.DifferentDream.com.