Special needs parents often have to clear higher hurdles than other parents in the day to day race to care for their kids.
However, there are a lot of things that are different when you’re parenting a special needs child.
This list is not meant to be a catch-all for all special needs parents in the world. What we hope is that YOU will add to this list. Tell us the one thing you personally wish everyone could understand about parenting a child with special needs.
20 Things Special Needs Parents Want to Tell You
1. Our kids are doing their best. You may witness a meltdown or outburst. It’s okay. Our kiddos have to work extra hard for almost everything.
2. Do not tell us that our child looks “normal” or “just like all the other kids.” That’s so offensive.
3. Be patient with our kids and with us. We aren’t going to rush and we aren’t going to make our kids rush. We run on “kid-time” and when you’re with us, so do you.
4. We don’t appreciate your thoughts on what caused our child’s issues. Don’t offer your medical advice, teas, essential oils, or other things that you are sure will help. We’ve got this.
5. How best to discipline our kids is not your concern. We do what works.
6. Our kids can hear you, so watch yourself. (No disrespect intended to parents of deaf children.)
7. Don’t pretend our family is invisible. We know you’re looking at us. Say hi. If you have questions, politely ask.
8. We have to fight to get everything our kids need including proper health care. Teachers, aide, caregivers, sitters, schools, and so much more.
9. Having some sort of balance in our lives can be really hard. Often, there is no time for absolutely anything else.
10. Special needs parents feel like they are always playing catch up.
Love us, hug us, tell us we’re doing a good job.
11. No pity, please.
12. It’s nice to talk to someone who wants to understand.
13. No, you don’t know how it feels.
14. Sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re anything but. If you love us, go a little deeper and ask questions that require more of an answer than, “How are you?”
15. Stop excluding us from your life. We know we come to events with a lot of fanfare. We understand when it’s simply not the time or place for our kids, so don’t be embarrassed to tell us beforehand. However, we’d love to be invited and included as often as possible.
16. The isolation is painful. Sit with us, call us, text us.
17. We live life on a tightrope. Is this noise too loud? Is this shirt going to be a problem? What if I put the sandwich on the wrong side of the plate? One misstep and we can find ourselves in the midst of a crisis.
18. We are not always sure we’re doing the right things with our kids.
19. Yes, we do feel jealous at times. We sometimes see how easy it is for other families and for a moment, we wish we could have that. Only for a moment, though. We wouldn’t give up our lives with these kids for anything in the whole world.
20. Money is always on our minds. Of course, there are many of us for whom money is not a concern. For most of us, it is. Driving to doctor’s visits, expensive meds, therapies not covered by insurance, and the list goes on and on. We can’t afford to do everything you can do, so please keep that in mind when you ask us to go somewhere.
What would you add to this list?
All special needs kids have different feelings, experiences, worries, and thoughts. So do special needs parents. That’s why we hope you’ll take a minute and comment with your own messages to the people around you.