9 Ways You Can Help a Special Needs Parent


When I set out to write 7 Things You Don't Know About a Special Needs Parent, I was a little nervous. I thought to myself, Who am I to speak for all special needs parents? My situation felt unique, and maybe no one would relate to what I was going through. I was encouraged by this post, though, and thought I would at the very least write it for myself, and share it with my friends, since these were hard things for me to talk about.

I have been completely overwhelmed with the response to this article -- huge numbers of Facebook shares, and special needs parents from around the world commenting on the article, tweeting and emailing me their stories and their appreciation for voicing their hard-to-voice emotions. I've learned about rare conditions I'd never heard of, cried reading personal stories about affected children, laughed out loud at some feisty responses to some of my points. Gratitude doesn't even begin to describe how I've felt about this whole experience.

More importantly, the response has made me reconsider my third point, that I feel alone. I realize that I really am not alone. Thanks to technology, an incredible worldwide community of special needs parents is only a tweet or comment or blog post away. Many thanked me for writing the article and making them feel less alone; now I thank them for making me feel less alone. (And thanks to HuffPost for giving us this platform.)

I thought I would follow up with another post, one that I've had in my heart to write for a while. The first article expressed some of the emotions related to special needs parenting, with the goal of building understanding. So others know how much we go through -- now what? This article offers practical tips on how typical folks can relate with and help special needs parents.

One of the hardest things for me to learn as a special needs parents was how to ask for the help and support I needed. And frankly, sometimes it felt like a luxury, when my more pressing concerns were getting through the workday and the next therapy or doctor's appointment.

But communicating and relating to each other is really important. Although a typical world can be miles apart from a special needs world, I will never give up on trying to build bridges and understanding, because our combined worlds won't grow otherwise. I don't want to be a self-enclosed bubble (although I was for a long time). I don't want to grow apart from my friends with "typical" kids... especially when many of them sincerely want to know how to be there for me.

So, here's my list of nine ways you can help a special needs parent -- or me, at least. Feel free to chime in and add your own.

Click here to read more.




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