Though I wouldn't want to trade my children for any others for the long term, it really helps to occasionally swap kids for a few hours.
I have a friend who has children with hidden special needs too. When I say hidden special needs, I mean that most people would look at our children and think that they are just being belligerent or undisciplined. The average person would not be able to spot the FASD, MR, RAD, autism, sensory issues, or whatever else that makes it difficult for our kids to navigate well in society and in our families. Our kids are awesome, but they can be a handful. It can also be wearing.
For instance, one day last week Ms. D had a new appointment at 3:30. We also had to take Brewster to an important guide dog meeting and picnic across town at 4:00. We had to bring ice and juice to the picnic, so I waited until a half hour before the appointment to get the ice at the store so it wouldn't melt too much before dinner. The plan was to have Hubby bring the dog to the meeting and I would take Ms. D to the picnic after her appointment. I had about ten minutes to load the car and get the dog ready. The plan was excellent if all went well. But in my family, and in many families with kids with special needs, all does not go as planned. Mr. I came in the house during those ten minutes with hives that swelled half his face. He is extremely sensitive to pain, so he was miserable. I ended up running back and forth between the doctor's and our home, making sure Ms. D got to her appointment and Mr. I wasn't going to go into shock. It was a crazy evening.
My friend and I joke about how we should sign up for a reality show so at least we'd get paid for our drama. We either have to laugh about some of these days, or cry. Laughing is more fun.
So why trade children with other children who have special needs?
Well, our kids tend to behave better with someone that isn't in their family. My daughter will help my friend with her children and do some chores there. Her daughter will help me with things she wouldn't do at home. I remember enjoying chores at friends' houses when I was young too. Even though our kids have some special needs, they are typical in some things like this. It's kind of nice to see that our children can behave well, even if it is more difficult at home.
We understand each other's children. Because of living with mine, I understand that parenting methods are sometimes turned upside down, that "can't" sometimes looks like "won't", and that I need to first look at the environment for triggers. I don't judge my friend if one of her children misbehaves, and she doesn't judge me. We both know it's hard for all of us.
It is good for the kids and the parents to see that other families do some things differently and other things the same. My daughter finds out that she has it pretty good, and that it is not unusual to take some things from her to keep her safe. I get new ideas for parenting, since FASD and autism have some similarities.
And best of all, I learn how wonderful my kids are. Even though I need an occasional break when things get messy, I love them dearly.