Read this FAQ from my perspective as a parent of a child with special needs for more information about Special Needs.
What are Special Needs?
Special Needs include deficiencies to physical, behavioral and emotional, and learning abilities. Special Needs might include muscle weakness (e.g., hypotonia), developmental delays (e.g., not reaching milestones), and speech difficulties (e.g., nonverbal communication).
It’s my fault my child’s going through this!
Yes and no. Yes, because you had a child out of love. No, because your genetics are just a part of you (as theirs now just are), you might’ve not known what your genetics would someday make, and there are no guarantees. But before you take on becoming Mother Nature, consider that a lot of worse things happen in the world than having Special Needs offspring.
Special Needs kiddos aren’t bad people, aren’t a punishment, aren’t stupid, aren’t undeserving, and are certainly NOT less-than. Those kinds of opinions are beliefs held by very close-minded people who don’t understand.
And close-minded people might not want to understand. My thought on that is it’s because they live in their egos, but that won’t make them happy.
Where do Special Needs come from?
Sometimes a life event might happen that might affect the body (e.g., an accident that results in amputation, a stroke that results in speech difficulties).
Or there are MANY chromosomal variations in people’s genetics that impact development (e.g., trisomies like Trisomy 21, Trisomy 18, and Trisomy 13) that can happen to any set of chromosomes.
Every person’s genetics are different. The stuff that gives one person blue eyes and another brown eyes is the same stuff that might grow a finger where a thumb should be.
The first two turning points are quality of human egg development and fetal development in the womb. Sometimes it goes according to what people have come to expect, sometimes it doesn’t. Both expected and unexpected features belong to people. You and I are people. We are all people.
And before you go thinking you’re typical — When was the last time you had trouble understanding math, a writing assignment, or sports? Do you have trouble reaching the top shelf in your kitchen, or are you too tall to go through a door without ducking? Does your body run efficiently, or do you need help for your thyroid or other hormone levels?
People are just born with different physical and neurological capacities and potentials.
Is parenting a child with Special Needs worth it?
After my time in the support groups I follow — one leaning pro-choice, and the other decidedly pro-life — and after having a child with partial Trisomy 18;1 — I can emphatically say YES. With help, children with special needs THRIVE if the situation allows for it.
Parenting a child with Special Needs teaches strength. Due to resistance in the form of insensitive encounters, it’s a necessary crash course in educating others. And it teaches deep compassion for differences and for what life is.
Raising a child with Special Needs builds character and, for families who’ve embraced their family member who has differences, I haven’t heard once that it wasn’t worth it.
Special Needs Reading Materials
This Reading List includes affiliate links that I use to support my work. At no additional cost than what you buy on your own, I may receive a commission if you make a purchase.
- Baby Signing Time YouTube Channel.
- Baker B, Brightman A. Steps to Independence: Teaching Everyday Skills to Children with Special Needs. 2004. 4th ed.
- Briant M. Baby Sign Language Basics: Early Communication for Hearing Babies and Toddlers. Carlsbad, CA; 2009.
- Brodey D. The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special Needs. 2008.
- National Institutes of Health: Genetics Home Reference online resource for understanding genetic conditions.
- Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) gene catalog.
- Pantley E. The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns: Amazing Sleep from Day One – For Baby and You. New York; 2016.
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