A few weeks ago I wrote a response to an article I read about raising kids with special needs and the reasons I think that they run true for an expat. One of the reasons was “Loneliness” due to mobility of expats and the fact that we live so far from family. This week I want to look at “alone-ness” which is different than being lonely.
From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, “alone” means to be separated from others. As a parent of a child with special needs, I do feel at times “separated from others.” The needs of Jie Jie are not like the needs of most expat families.
Jie Jie was tube fed her first six years of life. When visiting family in the US, we’d have checkups with the doctor and I’d stock up on feeding supplies that we needed to get us through a year or two. One spring, we had enough feeding tubes to make it back to the US – or so we thought. At church one Sunday morning, her feeding tube came out. Normally, this is not a huge deal because I always had one on hand for emergencies. The problem this Sunday was that the “emergency” tube was the one that broke. We had no more. We were able to creatively keep the tube inserted and feed her until we could see a doctor. Alone-ness surrounded me – although every single expat wanted to help, none could.
I was separated out from the others.
We contacted the company that made it and they located the exact feeding tube we needed in the same city that we lived in. The doctors there had just started using that type of feeding tube, so they were quite a bit more expensive – but we could get it the next day.
So, how do I combat this feeling?
1. Make friends with the locals and search out other expat families. There is a language barrier sometimes, but I have found a few who even have the same syndrome as Jie Jie. I am able to ask what is available for treatments, where to buy things, and even what they do for various situations. If you hear of another family, contact them and find out what they know and do with their child. I just recently discovered online speech therapy this way.
2. Online communities. Since Facebook, groups have formed for all kinds of things. I have found one that is a community of families that have children with the same syndrome as Jie Jie. It is here that I can post questions about development or other questions I feel I can’t ask. I also gain encouragement from the others that post about their children
3. Pray. Yep, I pray and ask God to give me wisdom in each situation. I go back and remind myself of his promises, his faithfulness, and his goodness. I remind myself that really, I am not alone because just as Moses promised Joshua, in Deuteronomy 31:6, “[God] will never leave you or forsake you,” I know that as a follower of him, he will never leave me or forsake me either.
So, though at times I have felt very alone and even hopeless – I’m not. There are people around me. I have a great husband who is a great team player, but we do have to be active in protecting our marriage. I’ll be writing a post on this huge topic soon.
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- An Expat Special Needs TCK Parent (raisingtcks.com)
- Vacations and Special Needs – it can happen! (raisingtcks.com)
- Public Transportation and Children, including Special Needs (raisingtcks.com)
- 5 Tips for International Traveling with Special Needs Children (raisingtcks.com)
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