Community, Coping with the Challenges

The Needs of the Special Needs Mom

When we found out that our child had some severe developmental delays, it was the beginning of a very long and tearful journey. Is this your reality? Or perhaps you know someone whose dreams for their child have taken an unexpected turn.

Though the world may applaud her for her sacrifices and dedication, in reality the mother of this child has some special needs of her own.

The Needs of the Special Needs Mom

She needs a break.

After homeschooling a child with special needs for the past 7 years, one thing has remained consistent: this kid requires A LOT of breaks. But the mother needs breaks as well. Tension can rise quickly even during the most simple conversations. Hitting the pause button or even switching activities can prove invaluable.

She needs time away from her child.

Sometimes a short break is not enough. Because I spend almost every waking moment with my child, I am physically and mentally exhausted before day’s end. I’m thankful when my husband will sometimes take our son out before we both become completely unglued. On a more extreme case, my husband recently whisked me away to the beach for a couple of days because he knew stress levels were high in the home. Even though I resisted the idea (not because I hate beaches, but because the control freak in me didn’t want to leave my son for that long), it was a necessary time to recharge. If you have a friend in this situation, you can offer to take her kid out or, perhaps, she would appreciate it more if you took her out.

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She needs a listening, sympathetic, and compassionate ear.

Sometimes this mom needs to let it out, vent if you will. She wants to talk about how daily tasks are a common battleground, how she feels like she’s not doing enough to help her child, how it’s hard to join play groups, and how the frequent meltdowns are enough to keep her from leaving the house. She wants to talk freely without judgment. Though there is a place for a timely word of encouragement, sometimes she just needs a friend who will listen and weep with her.

She needs encouragement.

I’m going to be honest with you. Encouraging words for someone struggling in this are not the easiest things to come by. Should you tell her you can relate even though you don’t have a child with special needs? Should you go the practical route and suggest something from a parenting book you just read? Should you tell her everything will be ok or things aren’t that bad? Though meant well, sometimes these responses can sting the open wounds of an already hurting mother.

But don’t shrink back from reaching out to this mom. She needs you to be a true friend, even if you are not in the same situation as she is. The best encouragement I have received have come in the form of a prayer, a Bible verse, or simply “I love you.”

Do you have a child with special needs? What do you need right now?

6 thoughts on “The Needs of the Special Needs Mom”

  1. My kids are raised. But when they were teens, I had no one to talk to about the fact that my kids still needed a babysitter, couldn’t go on the senior class trip, had to work on two way conversation.

    1. That must’ve been so hard! I hope that those who don’t have children with special needs will see the opportunities they may have to encourage another who is going through these challenges. I’m thankful for the women in my life who have courageously come alongside me, even though they personally haven’t gone through the same things.

  2. You know, to be honest, it’s really hard for me to find anyone I can talk to about my son and our challenges. He hasn’t officially been diagnosed or labeled so I feel like I can’t “connect” with those groups of moms that all have kids in the same situation as each other. Know what I mean? And yet, I do not desire a diagnoses. That probably sounds contradictory, but that’s the way of it, lol.

    1. I hear ya. We always thought, “Will it change how we raise our son if we had a diagnosis?” We were in the dark for many years with diagnoses that didn’t quite fit. And only now that he’s almost 12 that we’re revisiting the topic of getting him reevaluated because of some regression we’re observing. And you don’t need a diagnosis to talk to me about the challenges you face.

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