I didn’t step out on my motherhood journey to be a special needs parent, but I will say that being a special needs mother has been a true testament of tenacity in experience. I’m an autism mom, and I am also a mom of multiple children with specific learning disabilities along with a child on the spectrum behaviorally. There were times despite the familiarity of data among children diagnosed with living with various learning disabilities and behavioral challenges that many moms face across the country I felt as if I was on an island by myself navigating through it all. It’s exceptionally crucial for special needs moms to develop encouragement for their parenting journey.
Note: This article should not be used to categorize oneself, child, or to be viewed as a diagnostic tool.
There are various disorders in which a trained professional or a licensed physician may diagnose a child in being under the umbrella of Special Needs or needing special needs services.
There are several learning diagnostic challenges that both students and parents face day to day in academic growth and achievement that can prove to be intensely stressful. I’m not only a Special Needs mom, but I worked prior to becoming a teacher as paraprofessional in an inclusion classroom. I worked of for many years as a private tutor for students with SLD before becoming a teacher.
I know how it feels to be a Special Needs mom, and I’ve had many transparent moments with other Special Needs parents on occasion where we’ve shared heart to heart about the difficulties we face in similarities. My twin daughters attend a adaptive swimming program that allows me the chance to connect with other Special Needs families with children ranging from childhood age to adulthood in having a rare moment to talk to. I get the chance during their swimming classes to talk to parents I can relate with, gain insight from in discovering helpful resources, vent occasionally, and I get through observation to see what it maybe like as a parent when my daughter gets older. I didn’t know that austim was linked to insomnia which effects me as a working single mom in my daughter keeping me up most of the night. The ball is often dropped on report card day with one of my children with learning processing disabilities. I deal with the extremities of random temper tantrums, mood swings, outbursts in impulsiveness, and withdrawals daily in doing my best to keep my own mental health in check in caring for children that have specific needs. It can be extremely tiring as a mom regarding school situations in having children with Special Needs because of school budget cuts, limited resources for accommodations in services to help your child, and insensitive staff who don’t fully understand the complexity of various special needs behaviors. I can honestly say as a teacher myself that I’m oftentime left drained, disappointed, and disgusted about some situations I’ve experienced as a Special Needs parent that felt hopeless in resolving. I feel like a 24/ 7 advocate for my children at school and other social situations that can feel as if I’m going in circles.
These are some common thoughts, emotions, and stressors many Special Needs Moms experience:
- Self-Esteem Issues
- Social Isolation
- Insomnia (not sleeping) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
- Information overloaded
- Financial Strain
- Lack of Support
- Poor concentration
- Poor appetite or Increased appetite
- Occasional Grief
- Strains on personal relationships
It’s not easy for many Special Needs moms to apply self-care in having to play the dual role of parent and caregiver. It’s however very essential for us as Special Needs moms to take care of ourselves just as dutifully as we care for our children who depend on us heavily in adopting wellness in mind, body, and spirit.
Here is a little encouragement for my fellow special needs moms who often need a pick me up from the weight of balancing so much on their shoulders.
- Know that you are a good mom, and don’t think any less of yourself because of your child’s disability or behavior. You’re not a bad mom for having a Special Needs child.
- Release the guilt and shame. There was absolutely nothing you did wrong in becoming a Special Needs parent, and there was nothing you did to contribute to your child’s in aiding in their disability. God saw it fit that you had a special love to give to your child in patience, empathy, compassion, and devotion in safe keeping, so he did not make you a Special Needs parent to carry it as a burden, but he created you as a Special Needs parents as an extension of his love to show how his love should be given towards all.
- You’re doing a good job! I know it may not seem like it at times , but you really are. You’re doing more than the average within your parenthood journey in juggling life, family, managing a household, and being a caregiver. Stop beating yourself up in giving yourself more credit.
- You are not alone. Our situations and circumstances may differ as Special Needs parents, but trust there are many things we all share in common. There are millions of moms who can relate to you in some compacity. Research in your area and research through social media to find groups that are specific to your child’s disability for guidance, inspiration, and to discover helpful sound resources. Don’t put it on yourself to go alone or feel alone as a Special Needs mom in finding support groups and trusted allies in friends within the community.
- Take care of yourself so you can take care of those who need you the most with getting proper rest ( throw in a nap when you can), eat a healthy diet to give you the energy needed to carry throughout the day, exercise beyond counting the busy moments of caregiving, and learn stress management in mindful activities through coping. I personally like breathing exercises, meditation, and stretching exercises.
- Hope is not lost. I know oftentimes it feels defeating when you experience setbacks in parenting a Special Needs child in many ways. It’s the little things that count even more with us as Special Needs moms. Celebrate your growth along with that of your child’s in little achievements, personal growth in handling situations, and the strides that you child has made.
- Embrace moments of humor. I’ve had to laugh at some of the quirkiness to keep from crying as a Special Needs mom. It has helped tremendously in keeping me upbeat, joyful, made my children feel safe in not allowing resentment to build up my spirit.
- Advocacy for Special Needs parents is important as well. We as Special Needs parents are oftentimes put in the role to be the advocate for our children in so many ways. There are services and laws in place to advocate for us as well as Specials Needs parents. If you feel as if you or your child is being mistreated, harmed, or anything other discriminatory don’t settle for less in reaching out. There are local officials, state workers, agencies, and attorneys who will work for our behalf as Special Needs caregivers and parents.
Sending you my love, prayers, and support as we share this special journey together.