On the surface, special needs children might seem uncontrollable, disruptive and/or demanding, depending on the level and type of their disability or disorder.
On the surface, raising a special needs child seems like one long continuous struggle. Tantrums, mood swings, defiance and the demands of physical care might seem to be, and in some cases can be, the norms.
On the surface, special needs parents can seem exasperated, frustrated and without hope. Too often they lack the support and understanding they need and deserve. The rewards of raising a special needs child might seem few and obscure.
However, many of us might be surprised to learn that parenting a special needs child is not always be as it appears to be. We simply do not see beneath the surface. Some never get a chance to. Some choose not to.
But often, the story beneath the surface can be far different than what we’re used to seeing.
The Ups and Downs
Raising a special needs child is filled with as many peaks and valleys as raising any child. Are the valleys lower? The peaks higher? For the most part yes, and yes.
With special needs children, there are times when the simplest of achievements can make those peaks seem Everest-sized. For the special needs parent, something as simple as a tied shoelace, a read-aloud passage or a base hit might make all the difference in the world. In extreme cases, even an uttered word, such as that from an autistic child who never speaks, can bring euphoria.
When it comes to special needs, each milestone is magnified, each accomplishment accentuated.
God Gives Special Children to Special People
Sometimes the joy of parenting a special needs child can come in the most unexpected ways.
In September 2013, a North Carolina mother brought her family to dinner at a local restaurant. While there, her 8-year-old son, a special needs child, began yelling and pounding the table.
The outburst undoubtedly disrupted and upset other customers in the restaurant. However, the waitress delivered a note to the mother of this special needs boy following this upsetting display.
The writer of the note had not only paid the family’s bill, but delivered the message: “God only gives special children to special people.”
Finding those who understand what they are going through is surely another, and possibly rarer, “hidden joy” of raising a special needs child. All too often, such parents are met with negative comments and attitudes.
But to find validation from strangers that they are indeed doing the best they can could be a high point for parents often bereft of such support.
Making the Climb
Parenting a special needs child might often make those parents realize the simple pleasures in life. Taking the time to relax, to pursue a hobby or even enjoy quiet moments can be the true hidden joys for those on this journey, simply because they appreciate these times more than the rest of us.
Parenting a special needs child is difficult and intimidating and draining. And the joys and even the rewards can sometimes be hard to come by.
Climbing Mt. Everest is difficult and intimidating and draining as well. But the joy of standing atop the highest peak in the world? That feeling of accomplishment and elation?