A close friend asked me recently to help them understand some of the differences I feel we have being in a special needs family.
She was reluctant to ask, not wanting to hurt my feelings, but truly wanted to better understand. I chose to reply using the platform that works best for me; right here and to share it with not only her, but all of you.
I am sure many of you will read these and relate, and many will not. I think that is what we all have in common;Parenting is different, as our children all are different.
These thoughts and “differences” are not being shared to look for pity. It is my hope to give some insight into what special needs parents think, do and feel.
Special needs parents are given some extra challenges on a daily basis, we don’t always know what they are or when they will “arrive”. Parents raising typical children, for the most part, can go about their days, until something happens to flag a need ( example-sports injury, school issue,).
Here are some examples:
-Special needs parents hope their child gets invited to A birthday party
-Typical parents juggle 2 parties in one day
-Special need parents are “potty training” way past toddler years
-Typical parents become worried if goals aren’t reached by age 3
-Special need parents seek and yearn inclusion at school, parks and all over town
-Typical parents aren’t sure what that means
-Special need parents worry about what is going to happen to their child as they get older
-Typical parents are planning their empty nest travel
-Special need parents hope for an activity/ club/ sport to be offered for their child
-Typical parents have to juggle after school schedules with multiple activities
-Special need parents hope for their child to be able to express themselves
-Typical parents hope for some quiet and for their child to stop talking to them
-Special need parents are beyond thrilled when having a date night (or even a date afternoon)
-Typical parents plan vacations/ getaways without their kids
-Special need parents have a list of 4 doctors, 16 medications, sleeping patterns etc. for caregiver when they are not with their kids
-Typical parents leave a credit card, keys and a phone number
-Special needs parents know the acronyms/ meanings of for OT, IEP, ID, Cpap, ABA, EI
-Typical parents don’t have to
-Special need parents teach their typical kids how to be independent and how to take care of their sibling at a very early age
-Typical parents hope their kids will know how to do laundry in college
-Special need parents are required to go on field trips for their child
-Typical parents get asked to chaperone
-Special needs parents have to search for a pair of pants with soft elastic, no buttons, no collar ,etc
-Typical parents shop for the current trend/ style
-Special needs parents have to get their kids dressed regardless of their age
-Typical parents ask their kids to get dressed
-Special need parents can’t do things on a whim. Planning is essential
-Typical parents can be spontaneous
-Special need parents can’t sit in the park with a friend while their child plays.
-Typical parents look forward to that meeting in the park to catch up with a friend.
This list may not be applicable to all special needs parents, nor may every typical parent relate to each category. Many readers sent in thoughts for this piece over the last several months. I chose the ones I thought could be the most relatable and added a few of my own.
My hope from this piece is to be able to give a glimpse into some of the daily thoughts and wishes of families with a child that has special needs.
The days are challenging and I think, what I was reminded of even more than I care to admit, are the fears of what is yet to come.
I have some more replies I have not used yet and will work on them for another piece with the focus on how things can be similar for us. If any parent would like to add some thoughts, special needs or typical, please send me an email.