Explaining your feelings about your special needs child

As the parent of a child with special needs, here is why it can help to describe your feelings and needs to others who may not "get it" yet.

Missed the rocket

You have taken off into a new world of parenting your child with special needs. What a great distance you traveled in such a short time! It can seem as if people you thought cared about you abandoned you to navigate this vast space all alone, and opted not to join in. The way some relatives and friends behave and talk makes them seem left behind in a world of ignorance - a world that no longer makes sense to you.

It is important to remember that those outside your "special" circle - relatives and friends whose lives do not revolve around a child with special needs - may make hurtful comments or behave with a lack of insensitivity. Try to keep in mind that they might be acting in this way because they aren't as experienced as you have become. Just as you and your disabled child require understanding, so do others outside your exclusive world.

Your child is not alone in experiencing human limitations. Generally people have extreme difficulty with acclimating to new and unusual situations. It isn't really fair to expect what you haven't explained. And even after explaining, people may need you to allow them lots of chances to get it right.

People tend to react to disability with anxiety. It can seem too complicated to handle. As a parent of a child with special needs, you have no choice but to face your reality. For others uninvolved in all the medical details pertaining to your son or daughter, the entire matter can seem daunting and overwhelming. Being patient and understanding, even though you are in need of support, can gain you support that will serve you well. Sensitivity to other people is also really nice behavior - the kind of treatment you also appreciate as the parent of a special needs child.

Give them a clue

Ignorance is not the same thing as indifference. Your friends and relatives may care about you and your child, but feel uncomfortable being forced to confront an unfamiliar and sensitive situation. They may lack the understanding of your circumstances and the experience that would allow them to relate to you both in an appropriate and helpful manner.

Ignorance is meant to be replaced with education - and that is your job. So share a few pointers with your relatives and friends.