At the beginning of June, I spent a long weekend at camp with 40 sets of parents, their kids with special needs, and their typically-developing children, too. During 3 days of observing and interacting with families and interacting, I noticed several common characteristics common. Whatever their children’s ages or diagnoses, these 9 characteristics of parents raising kids with special needs rang true for every family I met.
- They are isolated.Not by choice, but by circumstances that make getting out of the house difficult. Such as lack of understanding by the general public, hard to manage behaviors, medical conditions that require oodles of equipment, obstacles due to mobility, and financial hardships.
- They are problem-solvers.Even though the camp was handicapped accessible and every child with special needs had a one-on-one buddy, challenges popped up now and then. But dads and moms found creative ways to overcome them. Even better, other parents stepped in and brainstormed solutions with them.
- They are sleep-deprived.Many of their kids sleep poorly or need medical monitoring, so parents haven’t had an uninterrupted night of sleep in years. Somehow they keep going, but I came away from the weekend thinking that a perfect Christmas present would be for someone to volunteer for night duty so they could sleep nonstop for 12 hours.
- They are hopeful.Not Pollyanna hopeful, but realistically so. They believe their kids have a valuable and necessary purpose in this world. They may not know what the purpose is yet, but they believe it exists. And they parent their children in the sure and certain hope that the world is a better place because their kids are in it.
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