By Patricia Kormendy
All parents struggle and worry about our children’s futures, however, I think us parents of children with disabilities have unique concerns that we worry about constantly; about doctor appointments, therapy appointments, about school, about schedules, finances, friendships, relationships with our spouses, and our other children.
Each of our journeys is unique and these journeys can be rewarding, isolating, overwhelming and stressful.
It’s a constant battle and fight to make sure our children have what they need in this challenging world. We work tirelessly day in and day out providing for, caring, advocating and educating, being a therapist because of our love for our children. Everything we do is out of love; the sacrifices we make, the therapy appointments, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and all the other extra things we do to help give our children the best life possible.
All this being said, we often feel alone and isolated and it can be difficult for us to relate to other parents around us. We face challenges with our friends and family that parents of typically developing children do not. But, friendships and family relationships is a two-way street; just because my son will never be the same as a neurotypical child, it doesn’t mean I’m not interested in hearing about how your child is a whiz at algebra, or your child’s achievements or struggles. Your child’s achievements and struggles are just as important as my child’s – I don’t expect you to support me without me also being there for you when you need to share your own parenting frustrations or your child’s accomplishments.
I’m there for you if you need me to be.
Sometimes some families of children with a disability tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the world because at times, being in our safe place (our home) is where most of us feel the most comfortable. It’s a place where we don’t have to worry about the judgmental comments and stares from the rest of the world. The place where we can keep our family safe from the “real world” if we need a break.
I always have people say “l don’t know how you do it” or “you’re such a good mum” but the reality is you do what ever you need to do for your children regardless of whether they have special needs or not. I do find myself admiring other parents of children with additional needs, however. I admire their strengths, their resilience, their determination.
If I can give parents of neurotypical children one piece of advice it would be: If you do know of a special needs family and they are quiet, please check up on them, give them a quick call or send them a quick text message; ask them if they need or want help just to get the conversation happening. Or, if you see a parent struggling in public their child, don’t just stare or walk away. Reach out and offer assistance. It’s the little things that can make all the difference.