Parents of Children With Special Needs Speak Out

While all children are special, children with special needs offer parents and children the opportunity to show our grace and kindness in a multitude of profound ways.

I reached out to parents of children with special needs and asked them what they would like to tell their fellow parents. Their collective voice is one of compassion and quiet strength.

Listen to what these amazing parents had to say:

  • Friendships matter 1 of 10
    Friendships matter
    "If you are curious about something, just ask. If your kids are curious, just ask. Understanding special needs creates compassion and awareness. This is the foundation for ending bullying and teasing that can happen to special needs kids (or any kids for that matter). Teach your kids that being friends with a special needs kid is fun and a special friendship. One that both kids will learn from. Encourage it and foster it so you as parents will stay friends with your special needs parent friends."
    Contribution from Kerry Butler of Butler Way
  • Include our children 2 of 10
    Include our children
    "If you don't know what to do or say for another family of a child with special needs, the best thing you can do is include them. Parenting a child with special needs can be very isolating and sometimes the best thing you can do is treat them just like everyone else."
    Contribution from Jessica of Four Plus An Angel
  • Please, no pity 3 of 10
    Please, no pity
    "Also, NEVER feel sorry for us or make us feel as if we have it 'real bad'. We may vent about something just like any typical parent but it's only to vent. We are not looking for pity. Ever. We don't want you to feel sorry for us. Sometimes we just need an ear and hear 'that sucks but your son is a really great kid. We love him.'"
    Contribution from Kerry Butler of Butler Way
  • Sometimes a hug is all we need 4 of 10
    Sometimes a hug is all we need
    "Avoid 'God never gives us more than we can handle.' Doesn't help when I'm crying so hard I'm shaking, trying to breathe."
    Contribution from @TheDanaK via Twitter of Really, What Were We Thinking?
  • Include us 5 of 10
    Include us
    "Never stop asking your special needs parent friends to play dates or birthday parties. We still want to be included and our kids need to be exposed to typical kids in social settings as much as possible to learn these skills. Never leave us our our special needs kids out."
    Contribution from Kerry Butler of Butler Way
  • Please don’t stare or give dirty looks 6 of 10
    Please don't stare or give dirty looks
    "I would say-Please don't stare or give dirty looks, or pull your child away from mine as if he is diseased. Realize and become aware when you are in public, that sometimes behavioral children are innocent children struggling with a disorder that really, really sucks, and takes a toll on the entire family."
    Contribution from Tammy Cedar of Tammy Cedar Photography
  • Offer support to fellow special needs parents 7 of 10
    Offer support to fellow special needs parents
    "I always say that when things get really hard, just take your day minute by minute. Laugh at the things you can't control."
    Contribution from @MomoFail via Twitter of Momo Fali
  • Listen. Ask Questions. Learn. 8 of 10
    Listen. Ask Questions. Learn.
    "Listen, ask questions, learn about the disorder so you can understand when I have to cancel activities & not take offense."
    Contribution from @TheDanaK via Twitter of Really, What Were We Thinking?
  • Respect my child 9 of 10
    Respect my child
    "Please treat my child as you would your own. Try not to make assumptions. And don't be afraid to ask me questions...I do become very upset by the way some people respond to [my child] at times."
    Contribution from Elizabeth Flora Ross of The Writer Revived
  • Special needs children are smart 10 of 10
    Special needs children are smart
    "My child is special, not stupid!"
    Contribution from Sharon Bye

Photo credit: [Shutterstock]

The following poem was written by an Unknown Author, whose words beautifully reflect what these parents already know.

Blessed Are Those

I. Blessed are those who stop and listen to my chatter. You may not understand me; but I love when people talk to me, for I long for companionship, too.

II. Blessed are those who take my hand and walk with me when the path is rough, for I easily stumble and grow weary. But thank you, too, for letting me walk alone when the path is smooth, for I must learn independence.

III. Blessed are those who take the time to tell me about special happenings, for unless you make special effort to inform me, I remain ignorant.

IV. Blessed are those who wait for me. I may be slow, but I appreciate your patience.

V. Blessed are those who are not ashamed to be seen in public with me, for I did not choose to be born thus. It could have been you as well.

VI. Blessed are those who do not pity me, for I don’t want pity. All I want is understanding and respect for what I have learned as well.

VII. Blessed are those who notice my accomplishments, small as they may seem to you. I must work long and hard to learn many of the things you take for granted.

VIII. Blessed are those who include me in their games, even though I may not understand the rules, I still like to be included in your activities.

IX. Blessed are those who think of me as a person who loves, and hurts, and feels joy and pain just like you do, for I am human.

For more beautiful words and essays of love and hope contributed by parents of children with special needs, please check out Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids: Mostly True Stories of Life on the Spectrum (Volume 1) edited by Lynn Hudoba.

Are you the parent of a special needs child? What would YOU like to say to your fellow parent?

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