What’s the difference between parenting a child with special needs vs. one without?
I struggled with that question when my boy was first diagnosed autistic. Him being our first born, I was still just trying to figure out parenting period. What do you do when your child has a condition you can hardly understand or identify with?
It took me a long time, too damn long, to figure that out. Especially considering how obvious the answer is. So what’s the difference?
Only the details.
Details like what kind of therapy he can most benefit from – physical, occupational, speech, or all the above? Seeing what kind of physical aids might help, like orthotics to help his gait and balance while walking. Tracking down the right resources to help pay for all those things. Making sure we’ve got an appropriate plan for his education in place by working with his school to put together an IEP that suits him best.
”Only the details, he says. That’s a hell of a lot of details!” You’re not wrong. It IS a lot, but what carries us through all that is the thing that EVERY parent has to focus on, what unites ALL of us. The most important part of parenting, bar none:
Whatever you and your child with special needs may be facing, you still have the same purpose that all parents have:
– To love your child unconditionally
– To accept them for who they are
– To give them all the support they need to recognize their own unique gifts and learn to use them to live their best lives.
Understand, I’m not trying to diminish in any way the extraordinary challenges, efforts, or determination of parents raising children in a world not designed for them. My wife and I ARE those parents. I’m only pointing this out because coming to this conclusion helped me “keep my eyes on the road” so to speak.
When the details start to overwhelm, that universal purpose is what helps me keep my focus on what’s most important – providing my boy those things he needs to live that best life.
After all, he’s no different than any other child where that’s concerned. All he wants to do is live life on his own terms. Another universal truth that binds us all together.
I think that’s a realization that EVERY loving parent will come to. We just happen to have more details to sort out in the meantime.
The devil might be in those details, but parenting with that universal and loving purpose is what can help ALL our kids to fly.