Motherhood is something that many women dream of, even from an early age. We dream of having children, what we will name them, and how we will raise them. What no one plans for is a special needs child; how would you even plan for one?
I do the usual things, such as putting up baby gates to block off sections of the house to keep my child safe, play with them and engage them in activities, and I care for them when they’re sick.
The only difference between our kids is that my child needs more attention and requires specialized knowledge about them and their condition.
What’s Important to Consider
Having a special needs child makes me a target, but not what you’re thinking. I get a lot of pity looks and those looks where people are saying sorry with their eyes. That’s not okay, and you need to know why and how to communicate and treat my children and me correctly.
We’re Not Alone
We’re not. We have amazing support systems, groups, and families. While you may find someone, who has a child with the same condition, all the people in your groups have kids who require special attention.
We have playdates, group therapy sessions, and discussions. We lead healthy lives as parents, and we engage our children differently because they need diverse needs and demands.
Our families try to learn about the condition our child must better their understanding and ability to help. They love their grandchildren, and they try to be supportive. So we are not doing this alone.
Words Can and Do Hurt
You would be amazed by how many people I hear talking to their friends and the words “retarded” or “special,” and even “short bus” are used. These words hurt, not because you’re using them, but how you’re using them.
When you say something that shouldn’t be negative, with negative connotations, you are describing the terms as a dreadful thing. When you do this, you are making people who have a condition, are parents of disabled children, and friends of special needs kids uncomfortable and upset.
Words hurt, and you should think before you speak. Encourage your children to avoid hurtful language and help them understand that their words can hurt someone worse than violence ever could.
Ask About Our Children
We want to tell you about our children. We love talking about our children because we love our kids. I would rather you ask me about my child then assume you know what is “wrong” with them and ignore them.
Being informed about a condition is better than lumping it into one category and ignoring the person. Engage my child, talk to me, ask about their condition and what their life is like. I think the more people who understand what life is like for a special needs child would learn a lot about compassion and patience.
Being able to talk about my child allows me to connect with people on another level. It helps me to know that the outside world isn’t so cold and they’re not all going to treat my child awfully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand.
We’re Mothers First
Yes, we take care of our child 24/7, around the clock, and everywhere we go; but I’m a mother first. Mothers look after their children, anything you need mom will get you. We make decisions about our child’s care based on our instincts and knowledge of our child, not by medical information or how to care for a patient.
When you or your child hurt my child, I’m going to be upset as a mother would. I’m going to react and address you as you would for your child. Remember, we’re mothers first, and these are our beautiful children whom we love very much.
Our Children Are Human
Our children are human, and they have feelings and bleed like everyone else. When you give our child dirty looks, stare at them, point and laugh, they hurt; we hurt.
Our children are human, and they deserve the same respect as anyone else does. I don’t want you to look at my child as if they’re an abomination or a monster, they are a child, and they hurt when you treat and look at them differently.
Acceptance of Everyone
It’s important to remember that people are all experiencing different things in their life. While people may have a parent with dementia, Others may have a child with down syndrome. The doctor taking care of you could have a little girl or boy at home with Trisomy 18, just like the special needs child you insulted.
Do you know any parents of special needs children? Ask them about their life and see what you think after your discussion.
Shirley is the proud mother of two beautiful children. She has been writing informational blog posts for parents for a few years now and hopes she can help with your questions and concerns with parenting. You can visit her blog at Toptenstrollers or follow on twitter @shirley_ttsblog