Special needs families, we have all ran into them. The families with “that kid” with special needs. I have heard a lot of assumptions and “facts” tossed around about special needs families. Let’s take a moment to quickly and painlessly examine them!
6 BS “Facts” about special needs parenting:
- All we do is complain.
Nope. In fact, we can’t stand having to complain! It’s just one more time where we have to feel different from everyone else. I don’t want to point out that there is no way for my child to get into the booth you are trying to seat us at. What I really wish was that we could sit at the offered table, just like everyone else. Those weren’t the cards we were dealt though!
2. We think we are special.
Look, we didn’t invent the term “special needs.” Our needs really aren’t all that special, but they are different from the average person’s. As parents of a child with special needs (because that’s what they are dubbed,) we have to put consideration into even the most minute of details. “Is this place too stimulating?” “Where is the closest hospital?” “Are there stairs or tall curbs?”
3. We are trying to cash in on our kid’s condition.
While there are always a few “bad apples,” the truth is that vast majority of us wish our children didn’t have special needs. Yes, we love our children beyond measure, but I do wish it wasn’t so hard for my daughter. We aren’t looking to cash in on her condition or looking for a hand out. Often what we really need is a hand up or a hug.
What do you mean?
The stress levels of special needs parents has been equated to that of soldiers in our military. After living nine years with our daughter’s medical condition, I can completely see how this comparison can be made. While our lives aren’t on the line daily, often times our child’s is. I am expected to perform life saving tasks day in and out and to act like this is completely normal.
4. We are weird.
Ok, perhaps we can be at times! The lives of special needs families are complicated, and I can personally attest to that. As a result, we develop a quirky sense of humor to cope. Our children are often seen as “weird.” As a result, when my children call something weird, I always ask them, “Is it weird or just different from what you are used to?” Our children aren’t weird, they are just different from those you are usually around! Being different isn’t a bad thing, but is sure does make it hard to have friends.
What do you want me to do about that?
Teach your children that being different isn’t a bad thing and to extend friendship to those who are different from themselves. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it makes life more inspirational!
5. We expect political correctness all the time.
Ummm…no. Please just don’t be rude. Nobody wants to be called a “retard” or made fun of because it hurts our feelings. Please don’t tell us we are just being too sensitive. Special needs families just want basic human decency. They are not asking everyone to be their bestie and to hold hands in the hallway. Even if that were the case, would that be so awful? I know my daughter has a wicked sense of humor, but first you must learn to understand her. Once you do, let the good times roll!
6. We expect the sympathy invite.
We don’t want the sympathy invite or to be the token kid on the party list. Beatrice is an awesome kid and should be invited to the party because she is a friend. True friendship is something we all crave.