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What It's Like to Parent a Child With Special Needs

What Moms of Kids With Special Needs Wish You Knew

Having a child with special needs sets you apart from other mothers. It shouldn't, but it does. It’s like being part of a club you didn't ask to join — one where non-members don’t always understand what happens at the meetings.

Moms who are in the club truly wish those outside it could understand. Here's what they wish other moms knew, as explained by Circle of Moms members whose kids' special conditions run the gamut from autism to being wheelchair bound.

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1. We’re as Normal as You Are
Moms of kids with special needs are funny. We’re snarky. We like to go out and gossip just as much as you do. Mom Judy says what she really wants is friendship, not pity. Having a child with special needs doesn’t change our need to be one of the girls, so invite us out for drinks or dinner!

2. We’re Jealous of How Normal Your Life Seems
We know that everybody has stuff going on in their lives, but sometimes it seems like your stuff is so much easier to deal with than our stuff. As awful as it sounds, we are, like one member (screen name: "Firebird Bedard") explains, sometimes jealous that your child has met his developmental milestones or that your child is healthy or even just, as mom Danielle C. so simply puts it, jealous you don't have to go through this.

3. Sometimes We Feel Like Terrible Moms
Having a child with special needs doesn’t mean we’re automatically more patient than other moms. Sometimes we just lose it. Even though most of us know that mom Stacey M. is right when she says losing it “happens to every parent, even those without children with special needs,” knowing that our kids can’t control the behavior that drove us over the edge makes us feel like horrible moms.

4. We Use Humor as a Coping Skill
One Circle of Moms member, Angela L., bought her son a shirt that says, “I have autism, what's your excuse?” I, myself, have a t-shirt that says, “Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes because then you’ll have their shoes and will be a mile away.” We have what Angela calls a “warped” sense of humor about our kids and what our families face, but it’s not out of disrespect. It’s a way of coping in tough situations.

5. We’re Tired and Overwhelmed, but It’s Not Personal
OK, well maybe sometimes it is personal, like when Kathy T., mom of a boy with autism, yelled at a stranger who told her she needed to control her son. But most of the time it’s not. Mom Lisa W. said it well when she admitted that with all that’s going on with her daughter at home, school, and various therapies, her patience isn’t the highest at times.

6. We Want to Answer Questions and Talk About Our Kids
Angela, whose son is in a wheelchair, acknowledges that some people are just too scared to ask questions. Another mom, Raylene, understands that people don’t always know how to deal with our children’s differences. We know that you’re not sure what our child’s limitations and abilities are and we’d be happy to fill you in. All you have to do is ask!

7. We Don’t Always Feel “Blessed”
Having a child with special needs isn’t always the blessing people with more “typical” children tell us it is. It’s hard for us and it’s hard for our children. As one mom (screen name: "Iridescent") explains, “I love each of my children dearly as they are, but I would take away their trials in a heartbeat if I could.”

Source: Shutterstock
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