We see you at baseball games, dance recitals, and school plays with your neurotypical, non-special needs children. Sometimes you look at those of us who have children with special needs and we see pity in your eyes. You turn away quickly, not wanting to make us feel uncomfortable, but we see it. Well, we’d like you to know that you don’t need to pity us. We love our children as much as you love yours, and we have some things we’d like to share with you that may help you understand our point of view.
Four Things Moms of Special Needs Children Would Like You to Know
First, please don’t tell us you’re sorry that our children have special needs.
We love the child we have. Although life may not always be easy, we love our children as much as you love yours. Please remember that although they may look or act differently, our children have the same emotions that your children do. They express happiness, sadness, fear, joy, excitement, anger, curiosity, and like everyone, they get their feelings hurt. Please don’t say “He looks so normal. I’d never know anything was wrong” or ask “Surely she will grow out of that, right?” And, no, all they need is not a little more discipline or tough love.
Second, please don’t compare our children to others.
We love hearing that you care about us and want to help, but please remember that all children are different and what worked for your cousin’s brother’s niece’s best friend’s daughter with the same special need may not work for all children. We have a special team of doctors and therapists who help us make sure our child gets the very best care possible.
Third, please ask us about our children.
Ask us how our child is doing on a particular goal, such as how they’re progressing in physical therapy, or the gains they’ve experienced with learning to speak. We enjoy talking about them as much as you enjoy talking about your children. Our children may be working towards different goals. Your child might be trying to win the science fair or place in track and field, while our child is learning to write his name or tie her shoes. The goals we have for our children may seem simple, but our families take as much joy from these accomplishments as yours does when your child scores the winning goal in soccer.
Additionally, if you ask to pray for our child, we likely will be fine with that, however, please don’t pray that our child will be healed. That implies that there is something wrong with our child. Our child is exactly who he or she is meant to be.
Fourth, please celebrate with us.
Remember that although our children have different abilities, every child has a gift of some type to share. One child may not see, but he has an amazing imagination. Another may not be able to walk, but may be a whiz in math. Recognize our children’s accomplishments and encourage us to celebrate them just like you would celebrate your child’s goals. Join us for a bowl of ice cream or a glass of iced tea. Tell us we’re doing a good job. If our child is struggling with something, let us share our concerns with you … and still… tell us we’re doing a good job.
We are not that different from you.
So, I guess it all comes down to the fact that all moms want to do what is best for their children. We all want the same things. We all want friendship and encouragement. We all want our children to be the very best they can be. So let’s work together and help one another raise children who make us proud to be parents.