From, the outside looking in, there are smiles, and nods and replies of how well they are doing, thanks for asking. Yup, special needs parents lie. Nobody wants to admit they are in over their heads. Who wants to let others in on what feels like their failure at being a parent? For the first time in their lives they may be questioning their belief system, their faith in themselves and in each other.
In the midst of all this, special needs parents often find friends they’ve had for years have suddenly disappeared, leaving only platitudes in their place:
If anyone can do it, you can.
I don’t know how you do it.
I’m so sorry.
Well, at least he doesn’t look like he has a bad case of Down syndrome.
Be thankful your other children are ‘normal.’
The bills unpaid. The sleep unslept. The diagnosis not found. The future tinged with fear. It’s even harder to feel hopeful when your house is a mess, the fridge is empty and you are on day three of wearing the same underwear.
Here are some ideas how you can help a family who is struggling. A few things you can say that will have meaning. A few gifts that will make a difference.
*I love you.
*You are doing a great job.
*What a cute kid you have.
*I’m here to clean your bathrooms and I won’t take no for an answer.
*Here’s a gift card for pizza…..or any favorite restaurant. You can use it on a night you need it the most.
*Drop a card in the mail.
*Send a text letting them know you are thinking if them.
*Give them a gift card for groceries and then offer to pick the groceries up for them.
*I’m here to help with your laundry.
*Let them know via text that you just dropped a big soda over ice on their front porch without ringing the doorbell, so they didn’t have to open the door in their jammies.
*I’m taking your kids for the day.
*Your friendship is important to me.
*Go ahead and vent. I don’t judge.
*Supporting a family of a child with special needs really isn’t that hard. The littlest things can mean the world.
As a family of a child with special needs, what do you wish others knew?