All moms are incredibly busy. There are appointments, rehearsals, games, practices, not to mention just helping with homework, laundry, and fixing meals. There’s no time to slow down. Add to all those responsibilities a child with special needs and you have a parent who is literally like the Energizer bunny. They go and go and never stop. They can’t. They have children who depend upon them to keep their world running smoothly. Because of this, parents of children who have special needs often feel very overwhelmed.
If you know a mother who has children with special needs, you may be wondering how you can help. Here are some ideas to get you started.
How to Help the Special Needs Mom in Your Life
Offer to Give Her a Break
When mothers of special needs children are asked how someone can help them, overwhelmingly they respond: “We need a break. Now.” When they say that, they’re not saying that they want to take a week-long trip to the Caribbean. They just need a little breather — something that other parents may take for granted.
If you have a friend or family member who has children who have some type of special need, offer to give her a break for an hour, a day, or even overnight. If her child has very complex needs with which you do not feel qualified to assist, try to help find respite care for the child. Respite care provides caregivers who have been trained to deal with more delicate or complex special needs.
Offer to Help Out With Siblings
If there are other children in the family who do not have special needs, another way to give mom a little break is to offer to take other siblings somewhere, maybe to basketball practice, dance lessons, or even out for a delicious treat. Not only would that give mom a little break, but often children who have family members with special needs feel brushed aside because of their sibling’s needs. A special outing just for them can help alleviate feelings of resentment that may build up over time.
Go With the Mom to Appointments
Another great way you can help is to offer to go with the mom to appointments. Parents of special needs children often find themselves at multiple appointments for therapists, doctors, and counselors. Trying to watch their child while listening to the medical practitioner can be very overwhelming. Having someone to either occupy the child so the parent can listen or having someone to take notes for the parent to refer to once they get home can be invaluable.
Offer Other Help
Parents of children with special needs spend so much time taking care of their children’s needs that other things are often overlooked. Offering to run an errand, do a load of laundry, or picking up dinner helps to take one more thing off their plate.
We have a saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” Many parents with children who are non-neurotypical or who have other special needs are still looking for their village. You can help by reaching out and offering your assistance. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to do, just ask. If they can’t think of anything — which is very unlikely — they’ll feel good just knowing you care, and they’ll be more likely to ask you if they need help in the future. You can be the one who makes the difference in their day.Teaching Children to Value Their Friends with Special Needs