Special needs children are some of the most loving, caring kids I have ever seen and I am not just saying that because I have two kids under that spectrum. They really are a blessing. Special needs is never easy to deal with and it comes with a lot of pain, feeling of failure, and lack of support–usually. It got me thinking that some of these feelings are probably induced by other people. Here is what I mean:
My older son, who is now 8, has what is called childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) . For a long time he struggled to speak and form words and after years of speech therapy he finally had his voice. Now he is never quiet. But there are still some issues that he has to overcome like comprehension, language skills, and conversation skills. When he was younger, say around 2-3, I used to hear some of the worst things that I could hear. “You’re the quiet/shy parent and he is around you the most, he is probably just picking up your habits.” Then there was my other favorite saying, “You’re just not talking to him enough.”
These things hurt. The way people said these things you would think I just locked my toddler up in a room with no stimulation or human interaction ever. It killed me inside and made me feel like a bad mother, not to mention that it seemed other people thought the same.
The criticism got worse when I had my second son, he is now 5. He, to this day, has not spoken a word. He’s been diagnosed with autism. He’s a loving boy who loves to be tickled and watch Tangled. He will run at full speed towards the site of a cookie or cupcake. He loves his blanket. And when people saw that I now had two children not speaking or speaking well… I got criticized by the closest people to me. I was the stay-at-home-mom. “What are you doing all day that your kids aren’t talking?” I tried to do what the speech therapists would tell me and their father to do at home with them, but it wasn’t enough. “You’re not working with them enough” and “You’re probably on Facebook all day.” There was a time where I would be conscience about how much I shared on Facebook because, even though you could probably share thirty “memes” and articles in a matter of two minutes, I had to keep the “appearance” that I was actually focused on my kids 24/7 even though I already was. It was tough.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and an ever bigger village to raise a special needs child and well, to put it frankly, I had no village. I had no support system. Just a bunch of criticism and hateful comments.
There is something else that I’ve noticed about friends and family members (more so family members) and keep in mind, my children are not bad kids nor are they difficult to handle. My kids love Sea World. It’s a place where they go and believe it or not–no meltdowns happen, they truly enjoy the animals, and they have loads of fun. Almost all the members of their family had yearly passes. My kids were always left out. Every single time… despite the fact that they had passes themselves. I’d see posts on Facebook of other family members going to Sea World and having a grand ol’ time and never–not even once– inviting my children (this wasn’t one or two times either… this was over a period of a few years). I don’t mean to sound like a brat here, or entitled, but I know one day my kids will notice this. It may not be until they reach the age of being on social media, and they see the pictures that I see, but they’ll know. What am I supposed to do when they feel sad about not being invited? I can tell you that I won’t sugarcoat it one little bit. And it makes me bitter that my kids get left out just because it seems no one wants to deal with them. It’s heartbreaking. And I hope certain people read this article. That’s how bitter I am.
Special needs kids are just like any other kids. They need to be given the same opportunities to do things as anyone else. As a society, and even as a family unit, we can’t isolate them from things and people in the world. They grow and learn like everyone else. And parents cannot help the fact that their kids were dealt the cards they were dealt. So please, next time you think you are an expert on special needs parenting and think you need to make a hateful comment, reconsider it, because parents in general are doing the best they can.