RAISING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS OR DISABILITIES ISN’T ALWAYS EASY I KNOW…
For those who don’t know me, I am the mother of a child with special needs. My son Jake has a degenerative neuro-muscular condition called Charcot Marie Tooth disease. The typical parenting books may have worked just fine with my first born, healthy child however when it came to raising my youngest son unfortunately these books did little to satisfy my desperate need for guidance and advice.
Hence the reason I wrote my book THEY SAY I’M SPECIAL – 100 Tips for Raising a Happy and Resilient Child with Special Needs. Parenting is difficult enough with an able-bodied and able-minded child but when you add special needs to the mix it creates an additional layer of stress and strain on your life that most parents with “healthy” children live without.
According to United Nations Enable approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population or an estimated one billion people currently live with a disability. They are the world’s largest minority and in the United States alone there are an estimated 13.5 million children currently living with special health care needs.
I of course still did worry about my first child when she was growing up, even though she was the perfect textbook baby. Every single milestone noted in the “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” handbook she achieved either before or exactly on time. But then came my second child, a gorgeous baby boy and I quickly learnt what “real” worry was. Real, constructive worry as opposed to the “everything is sort of too perfect so I’ll just make something up” kind.
Even though his official diagnosis didn’t come through until age three I already had an inkling something was not quite right at birth. The mid-wife immediately noted an anomaly of his limbs and requested a brain ultrasound which took place when my baby was just ten days old. After that nothing was ever the same again. I was never the same person again.
If you have a child with special needs then you and I are more alike than you may think. Even if your child has a behavioral, cognitive or developmental issue while mine has a physical disability, the same truth applies. We both know fear, panic and sadness. We both have shed tears over having that scary seed planted in the garden of our mind– that things can go wrong with children. Not everyone grows up to be healthy and mobile. Some children get sick and die, others simply never get better.
Whatever your case may be I want you to know you are not alone. You may often feel like this is the case and trust me, at times I too have felt that suffocating grasp of isolation. Even still, even if you feel this way, the fact remains that you are not alone. Right now at this very point in time there are millions of moms in the world raising a special needs child. Maybe they are not raising a child with the same disability as mine or your own child’s but they are still going through similar stresses, struggles and pain.
Because we often feel so separated from the masses, we sometimes forget that this other silent group of men and women exists. We forget that there are people who understand that life is not always so easy or predictable, not through hearsay but through experience. These are the friends and strangers who don’t need to hear a detailed description of your child’s diagnosis or an explanation as to why you can’t attend an event at the drop of a hat. Before you even utter a word they get it – no matter what their race, color, culture, social standing is, there is an invisible link that ties you together.
I am a great lover of quotes so below you will find some words that have really helped me on this unpredictable, challenging yet always inspirational journey we call life. As they say, words can inspire and words can destroy so choose yours well.
FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
For strategic tips and advice on how you can raise a happy and resilient child with special needs click here