Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
Give a warm welcome to our Military Spouse of the Day – Mandy Matthews. She is an Army spouse, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
Mandy says her best experience with military life has been how much like a “family” the Army community has been. “For example, we PCS’d to our current duty station only three days before Easter. Another Army wife whom I’ve only messaged and never met before invited my entire family over for Easter dinner, and included my three boys in their family Easter egg hunt. She even helped with my two younger boys while I dealt with my oldest son when he had a meltdown because he didn’t find the golden egg (we are still working on losing and life being unfair lol). I am blown away how often I’ve found spouses to step up and answer questions or share information and just be helpful. At times, my Army family is closer to me than my actual family.”
Mandy has faced some obstacles in her family’s special needs journey. Her son has a chromosomal deletion and it doesn’t fit nicely into any one box. In fact, he is the only registered case in the US with the deletion only on one strand of the chromosome. Mandy’s son has faced so many challenges that they have learned to work around. Being able to be in public, semi-crowded, noisy places such as a children’s museum without a complete meltdown is one goal that Mandy strives for. She says, “That doesn’t mean meltdowns don’t still happen (and adults respond to those meltdowns in surprisingly mean ways which tends to bring out the Momma Bear in me lol). Slowly, we are finding ways to cope with sensory overload.” Her biggest obstacle as a military special needs parent is learning to parent my son with special needs (and his brothers) alone.
Mandy “de-stresses” and takes care of herself by curling up with a good book and a cup of tea with a mom movie playing in the background. She says she usually only finds time for herself by staying up late after everyone is in bed.
Mandy’s best advice for new families in the world of special needs within the military, “The first instinct is to make sure you have all the best doctors/therapies lined up for your child when you relocate to a new area, and that is very important. But it’s also important to familiarize yourself with your options in your area for support groups or play dates…and make sure to find a few people, not necessarily other moms though that’s good too, to be in your circle. You’re going to need some support and some friendship to get you through. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need something, someone can help point you in the right direction. The Army takes care of its Soldiers and therefore takes care of their families, too. They want you to succeed in this crazy Army life.”
The Military Special Needs Network honors and salutes Mandy Matthews, our Military Spouse of the Day. We thank you for being such a wonderful military spouse and an amazing advocate.
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