Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Being a Friend to a Special Needs Parent

There's been a post brewing in my mind, but I wasn't quite ready to put it all together. Well, the early bird got the worm, and I'm wormless. :) Not like it was a competition, I was just excited to share. Either way, you should read this article titled, "7 Tips for Being a Friend to a Special Needs Parent."


We talk a lot (although we could stand to do it more) about how to treat a child with special needs, but we don't often talk about how to treat that child's parent. As *any* parent can attest, wrapped up in your child's behavior, personality, and appearance is everyone's (including your own) perception of you as a parent. This is very much the case with the special needs parent, too. There's just less of a protocol for what to do and say. I hope the article above helps with that.

To sum up what she said, remember these simple things:

We love our child with special needs just as much as we love our other children and as much as you love yours. Like any parent, we want you to learn how they best function and what they love, it's just a little more complicated than for a typical child. So just ask! We're cool with answering questions.

And if you notice something you find wonderful or endearing about our kids, please, please mention it out loud. We're exhausted by the countless times we might have to prove our child's intelligence and capabilities to (even well-meaning) teachers, doctors, therapists, and strangers. A friend was here watching the boys once while I was out and related a simple story to me. She asked her daughter over and over again to please get her shoes and put them on. Dean, seeing that the request was not being fulfilled, went and got her daughter's shoes and brought them to my friend.

This came during a time when we were really discourage about Dean's lack of speech and his teacher at the time thought so little of him. It was so encouraging to hear this simple story of how Dean was listening, understanding, aware of a need, and helped out. I think of it all the time (thanks, EJ). We special needs parents can have mommy glasses just like any other parent, but deep down, we need to know that we're not really crazy for thinking the world of our kid. Please confirm that our parental instincts, which are ever challenged by the alternative path of our child with special needs, are still alive and kicking.


renee brogan said...

Beautifully said Ali. It is always so awesome to hear praise for these kids, because we do hear so much about their shortcomings. But we KNOW how bright they are, not mom glasses... we just KNOW because we see it every day!

Janelle @ Two Cups Of Happy said...

What a lovely post. A great reminder for everyone, myself included!