Cynthia Adams-McGrath is a longtime caregiver and coauthor of Wellness for Winners: Your Guide to Wellness, Success, and Happiness. She took the time to share her journey as a caregiver for her son with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, David, with Taylor Conley, the executive director here at The Center for Caregiver Support.
Cynthia had to learn as much as she could about David’s condition and try to accommodate him throughout his life. He was a trailblazer as someone with special needs in mainstream education during a time period when there were not many other options for children with disabilities. She knew that he was a bright person, but mainstream methods to determine his educational value were not meant to work on children with disabilities. Cynthia fought for David and made sure that she did what was best for him.
“The role of caregiver/mom, dad, or other person is challenging though we have to find the light even if it is through a pinhole. We are brave through difficult times. Support is paramount for caregivers. We need to honor ourselves for who we are because in my belief, God gave us this opportunity to do his work. I also find it ironic for me to give to others, my time a text a small token replenishes me.
“Another thought parents of adult children with special needs may have to do some things i.e. toileting and other personal tasks. For me if I put myself in a mindset that while doing these things I say I am his nurse rather than mom. Then when I am done, I am his mom, which works for me.
“Parents aren’t perfect though, if we make, say, or do something with our child who has special needs, the guilt will just overwhelm us. We are human and should allow ourselves some grace. I feel fortunate that I can talk to David and say, “Son, I am frustrated with what you have said or the situation”, not with him as a person. Although once in a while I get frustrated with him. It is so important that we as caregivers acknowledge that we are doing the best we can and it is alright. That’s why it is good to have another parent who understands to chat with.”
The Center for Caregiver Support thanks Cynthia for taking the time to share her story.
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