The current population of the world is over 7.7 billion and is steadily rising. The beauty of our world is that every single person is different. Our differences can be found in our genetics, experiences, culture, environment and upbringing. I have been blessed with three wonderful children. Two children from a previous marriage and my stepson from my amazing wife. While all my children are amazing, I want to focus on my Stepson Drew.
Drew is eight years old and is the oldest of my children. He has a couple medical conditions that significantly affect his personality, development and the difficulties of parenting. He has been diagnosed with Asperger’s and sensory processing disorder. However, with every fiber of my being I would not change him for anything.
Drew has a soft and loving personality. His number one concern in every action he takes is to make everyone happy. He can sense the subtle changes in tone of voice, movement and excitement. As soon as he senses these changes, he will do everything he can to make the situation better. “Can I help?” “I’m sorry mommy.” “Is everything ok?” “I love you guys.” Unfortunately, his loving personality does cause him some significant anxiety. Often, we must break things down to a lower level than most kids his age, so that he can understand why we are upset. This includes even if he didn’t have anything to do with the change in emotions.
Drew’s sensory processing disorder makes every meal a challenge. Even going out to eat requires special considerations. For example, when I was dating his mother, I wanted to take them out to eat. We wanted to try Fazoli’s, it did not go very well. Within two minutes of walking into the restaurant, I had to rush Drew into the restroom so that he could get sick. The smell of the seasonings was so strong to him that he couldn’t help but get sick. With his sense of taste and smell being so defined it’s hard to get him to eat anything healthy. I was always against making separate meals and that kids should eat the same dinner as the adults, but with Drew that had to change.
It is an absolute privilege to watch Drew play. He always must have one of two toys. His absolute favorite is his woody doll from toy story. His secondary is an Undertaker WWE wrestler. He grabs them by one arm, swings them around and claps as he makes up a story. The story he creates is based on his day. If I took him hunting, then it’s a hunting story. If he played football or a video game, then the story is about those activities. Clapping is his coping mechanism with every emotion, happiness, sadness, anxiety, fear. So, to understand his clapping you must pay extra attention to every aspect of the situation.
His personality and way of life is something I can envy. Having so much empathy, caring so much about others is a trait that most people will never have or acquire. His fear of change makes us consider each step-in life carefully. This makes being a soldier a difficult task. However, I can finally say that I want to settle down and stop moving all the time. I can attribute the change in my heart to my boy that is special. His special needs only make me a better man and father. The difficulties of parenting Drew is absolutely worth the blessing he is to me and all the lessons he has taught me in life. He is amazing!
For the end of this blog, I would like to personally ask that anyone comment and tell me about the special child in your life. Let’s take a moment and honor the boys and girls that through their special needs, have made us better people!
Written by: Bradley Armentrout
Date: 13 September 2019