For the past eight years, I caused children with special needs being an in home aide. I assist  with homework, chores and activities of everyday living. Through this  I grew an in-depth, personal connection with  them. Obviously, a job of this caliber had its stressful moments but the bigger takeaway for me were all of the lessons I've learned throughout the years . Here's a few I think we could all affect our lives regardless of our backgrounds.

1.Be patient

We may try to accomplish a task multiple times and never succeed. But one day, whenever we aren't even giving our full effort, ithappens . The happiness in that moment of something visiting fruition far exceeds any frustration the failed attempts may have caused.

2.Celebrate life's small victories

Life at times can be  stressful and filled with unexpected curveballs (Pretty sure we all found that in 2021). With that being said, it is important to celebrate the small things. In my experience , a small victory could seem like a child I assisted creating a snack for themself without assistance. For those reading this, it could be exercising 3 times this week or remembering to fill your prescription. Every day life is too short and stressful out of the box, don't be so hard on yourself. 

3.Love looks different for everyone 

Many individuals with special needs have sensory issues that can sometimes create an aversion to touching, hugging, etc. Just because these individuals do not wish partake in these usual kinds of affection does not mean they don't feel warmly towards others. Remember how others express themselves  differs for each individual, how one shows heir love is not a cookie cutter formula. It does not mean that their feelings are not there.

4. Respect other's dietary restrictions/preferences

Some people with special needs can have side effects to certain food allergens and/or dyes. If an   individual has chosen for themselves ( or their family/guardian has chosen) to get rid of certain items from their diet, do not scrutinize them for doing this or question their motive. Respect that everybody is entitled to make these decisions on their own and/or their loved ones. 

5. Modern technology is a true blessing

While a lot of us use technology daily we usually  don't consider how it helps otherswho are  in a different position from us. For instance, individuals who are non-verbal can use charts and computers to assist express their needs and wants. Anyone who has a physical impairment  may have computers they can use with just eye  movement to assist them to voice their thoughts. Lastly, medical devices help in the assistance of moving those who might have issues otherwise or to closely monitor medical statistics to ensure their safety and well-being.

6. Have fun

Life doesn't also have to be all work with no play. Sometimes we take life too seriously. We have to remember to let loose, have fun and never be all work and no play.

When working with the children, I realized it  important to give them a well-deserved and far needed break between getting home from soccer practice. We all need a breather from time to time. Everyone can benefit from scheduled “rest” periods and enjoy a good laugh.

Remember we are all human. We all handle things differently. Following a challenging year like 2021  you need to remember you never know the full details of someone's life. Let's all bear in mind for the upcoming year  that we can all make use of a little more  empathy and a lot less judgment.