Revealing the Hidden Struggles of Special Needs Parenting

Parenting is an arduous journey, a path filled with uncertainties and a heartfelt wish for our children to grow up happy and well-adjusted. We all grapple with the challenges of raising our offspring, searching for guidance in a world where there’s no manual to consult.

Now, picture this journey with a twist – your child carries a diagnosis, one that might be physical, emotional, or neurological. It could be apparent to all or concealed from the world’s gaze.

It’s a daunting thought, isn’t it?

You’re not a doctor, a therapist, or a psychologist. There’s no instruction manual to navigate these uncharted waters. It’s just you, driven by an instinct that something is amiss. It feels like riding a roller coaster with no brakes, careening out of control. And like parents of typical children, you have no script to follow. Yet, you are entrusted with the immense responsibility of nurturing this vulnerable human being.

At first, you might resist acknowledging it. Then, you might struggle to accept it. But once you surmount that hurdle, you’ll find yourself wanting to talk about it. You crave knowledge, a chance to vent, a sympathetic ear, and understanding souls who can relate to your experience.

Parent Shaming You turn to your spouse, your family, and your friends – anyone who will listen. You yearn for help, for someone to hear you. But conversations turn awkward, strained. You detect judgment in their eyes, doubt, an inability to relate or understand your plight.

You attempt to open up during casual coffee breaks or happy hours with co-workers, yet it never feels right. The glances you receive make you feel ashamed, so you retreat into silence. You start questioning whether you’re just complaining, maybe you’re terrible at this parenting thing, or perhaps you’re imagining it all in your head.

Doubt creeps in.

From that point forward, you suffer in silence, keep your thoughts locked away. When you do discuss your struggles, you feel compelled to append every sentence with “but I love my child.”

I want to tell you that this self-silencing is wrong, but it’s an all-too-common facet of raising a special needs child. As a writer and a parent, I often find myself wrestling with these emotions. In response, I reached out to other special needs parents, asking them to confide in me, to share their secrets and confessions. Why? Because I want you and me to realize that we’re not alone, that our feelings are entirely normal. I also aim to shine a light on what it’s like to walk in our shoes, to provide insight into our daily lives.

On your darkest days, I want you to read these words from your fellow parents. I want you to know that you are not alone, that your feelings are valid, and that you will survive this.

Be kind to yourself. Embrace every emotion – the frustration, the sorrow, and the heartache. This life is challenging, but remember to find moments of laughter, for that might be the only thing that gets you through.

I wholeheartedly promise you, with every fiber of my being, that you will endure this.

Parents sharing their confessions with me, and here are some of my favorites:

The Love and Struggles “I love my daughter with all my heart. I prayed fervently for motherhood, and she is the child I was blessed with. However, there are moments when I deeply resent that this will be my life forever. People encourage me to see the beauty in autism, but the everyday reality isn’t always beautiful.”

“I fear that I don’t love my son enough. Amidst the trauma of his diagnosis and the daily challenges we face, I sometimes daydream about escaping. I wish my life were different.”

“The bad days are excruciatingly bad, and even the good days feel arduous. It’s almost surreal. Why is this so incredibly difficult?”

“I’ve become dependent on over-the-counter sleeping pills. My anxiety about not sleeping is so intense that I need a sleeping pill just to fall asleep, and I don’t even care anymore.”

“I haven’t told my boys, aged 6 and 4, about their autism diagnosis. I know the conversation is looming, and I’m terrified.”

“I’m not planning for my child’s college education. Instead, I’m planning for how to support her for the rest of her life.”

“I worry that my son will require constant care for his entire life, and I’m frightened that one day I might resent him for it.”

“I blame myself entirely. #AUTISM”

“I detest people who call autism a blessing. Autism feels like a curse. My son is high-functioning, and he was diagnosed later because his early symptoms were too subtle to catch anyone’s attention. No child should spend their days in treatment instead of playing. I’ll never consider having another child – I love my kids, but every day is a struggle for them and

Scroll to top