Here Is The Thing About Being a Special Needs Parent…

The number one piece of advice that you get from well meaning doctors, nurses, disabled adults, the garbage man, the waitress and your family is………

treat your special needs child like every other kid.

Yeah, here is the thing about that-they are not like every other child:

  • Every child doesn’t struggle to get dressed in the morning because their legs won’t cooperate.
  • Every child doesn’t have an average of 2-3 surgeries or hospital stays a year.
  • Every child doesn’t have to turn down invitations to friends houses because they have too many stairs.
  • Every child doesn’t have learning disabilities that make learning certain subjects next to impossible.
  • Every child doesn’t have a major therapy goal to learn how to pour milk.
  • Every child doesn’t spend their birthdays, christmas, halloweens, being monitored for infections
  • Every child doesn’t have to be worried that the thing they are allergic to is hidden in every day items

So, this is my collective scream at everyone who loves to pass on that tidbit of well meaning advice. You know, the one who honestly has no idea what the hell they are talking about? I would gladly treat my kid like he is just like every other kid. But the fact is, he isn’t. BUT, just like every other MOM I love my child more than myself and that is why I bend over backwards to make his life the best it can be.


  1. Although I can understand where you are coming from, I have to respectfully disagree with you. Yes obviously there are situations that take more time and care for a child with special needs. However the best thing a parent can do for their child, is treat them like any other child. I have 4 children, the third was born with Spina Bifida, I treat him with the same as the others. There is no special treatment for him, there are special accommodations for him at times, but he is disciplined, respected, and has expectations of him just like the other three do. I cannot count the number of times someone who works with him has commented about how grounded, and independent he is, I personally attribute this to the fact that I have always treated him like I treat my other children.

    • I totally agree that being a special needs kiddo in no way gives them a pass to not be respectful and disciplined. I am saying that the things my second son needs are completely different than his brother and to try to act like their needs are the same isn’t a reality for me

  2. Barb,

    I tend to try and tell the world that my kid is more like theirs than they may perceive. My kid likes the same kind of things the next door neighbor’s kid does……swings, The Wiggles, playing on the computer…..stuff like that.

    By this I try to build a bridge to more acceptance for those with special needs.

    And I have goals for Parker, the same as I do my other kids.

    Although my goals for Parker may be different from the goals I have for my other kids.

    However, I certainly understand where you are coming from. I’m pretty familiar with many of your bullet points above. sigh…..


    • I have always been that way too Tammy. I’m just tired of fighting right now. Cart has been on bedrest since May. We see two new specialist this week. I am just plain tired.

  3. Did you see my post today? I’m screaming with you, Barb.

    GREAT post – I love it! Can I convince you to write something for my blog, too? You’re so amazing.


  4. The only bullet point that applies for us is the last one. But fortunately, no one has ever given me advice on how to parent my daughter when it comes to that. Or maybe I’m deluding myself and people have tried to tell me – but I don’t take unsolicited parenting advice, so I probably shot them down early.

    I get the gist of what you are saying. No one else has to live in your shoes – we each have our own. It’s frustrating when someone else gives you “shoulds” – because they’re seldom in a similar situation.

    Many, many hugs.

  5. I’m new here so I hope you don’t mind me jumping in, but I too have a special needs child and I agree with everything you have written. It can be sooo hard. I treat my son just the same as my other children in many ways, but he has different needs and it can be so hard for other people to accept that. I was surfing for conference information and ended up here but I’m so glad, I’ve really enjoyed reading here and will be back.

  6. I get furious when people tell me to “let go” “treat him like any other child”….just like you said…most have no conception of learning disabillities etc…bowel/bladder incontinence…duh. I always wish them alll at least one terrible bowel accident in church or basketball game!!!