Raising children with special needs can come with unique challenges and opportunities for parents. We’re here to say: you are not alone. Finding community is so important for children’s socialization and growth, and the same is true for their parents. From school administrators to relatives to fellow parents, there are many people who are here to support you. Here is some helpful advice:
1 You aren’t perfect — and that’s ok!
And the even better news is no one is expecting you to be perfect. Parenting is full of mistakes; sometimes we think other parents are “doing more” or “doing better.” The grass is always greener; we can never truly know another family’s dynamic or what goes on behind closed doors. The main idea is to focus on your own family and act with love — with those principles, it’s hard to go wrong.
2 You are a superhero.
That’s right: not all heroes wear capes! Between preparing meals, coordinating transportation, championing your children’s passions, and making the world a more welcoming place for them, parents of children with special needs are most certainly superheroes. All of that, and in many cases for parents of special needs children, advocating for and being your child’s voice is another daily task. You are doing amazing things every day of every year!
3 Celebrate the little things
Because they do matter: whether it’s your child completing a chore or stepping outside of their comfort zone and trying a new food or activity. These are all calls for little celebrations. Maybe it’s a family outing to get ice cream or some quiet time on the couch watching a favorite TV show or movie. Keeping it simple is sometimes the best choice.
4 Make time for your partner
It’ll shock no one to hear that parenting can be stressful. It will shock even less people that parenting children with special needs can be even more stressful than that. It can take up a large portion of one’s day, which is why it’s all the more vital that time be set aside for your significant other or relationships. Pick a night each month for some time away with your significant other (or friends), and entrust a babysitter your child enjoys spending time with. You may feel guilty for getting out of the house, but it will do wonders for your mental and emotional health, letting you take in a new environment and recharge so you can be your best self.
5 Trust your instincts
This might be the most important piece of advice for any parent. Parents have strong gut reactions and know when they need to go with their intuition. Whether it’s your child’s safety, what friends they should hang out with, or where they should go to school, your instincts will be the compass needed to point you in the right direction. Trust yourself — you’re doing great!