Moms of Special Needs Children

“She’s really a nice person, but all she does is talk about her child with special needs. It’s her whole focus actually. And you want to ask her, 'aren't there are other things in this world besides your son with special needs?'”


It was the summer of 2014,and I was pregnant at the time with my third child as I listened to this other mom talk. I nodded my head complacently with nothing to contribute to the conversation. After all, I didn’t know this mom she was talking about and I certainly did not have a child with special needs.


The Summer that Changed Everything

In the summer of 2016, my memory quickly sprinted back to this conversation.  My son, whom I was pregnant with during that memorable conversation, had just been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and now the realization that I am a mom with a special-needs child hit me. Will people talk about me in this same manner behind my back?


You see, when one has a child with special needs, it DOES become your world. They become the topic of conversations you start. It is your life. From an outside perspective, it looks like the parents of the special needs child is loud and vocal and that they cannot separate the other parts of their life from their special needs child. That's because there is no separation. We are the parents living and breathing this reality every day. Our children becomes the focus of our lives. If I could go back in time to this conversation today here’s what I would say:


If I Could Go Back in Time


That mom, the one you roll your eyes at, the one with a child with special needs? She really needs your support and compassion. This mom needs your understanding and love. I know this is a whole new concept to understand, but try to hear me out. In your life with three highly-achieving children, you will never experience the life of having a child with Down syndrome. You wont feel the pain of isolation when your child does something inappropriate in public. Please try to understand that she is advocating daily for her child because if she doesn’t, no one else will. She knows what an uphill battle it will be for him for the rest of his life. As a loving mom, she wants people to understand that her son is really not that different from everyone else, though he carries an undeserved stigma. This mom knows when people stare at her child. She knows that she must advocate for him every day of her life. And when “all she talks about is her child with special needs,” she is doing it because she wants him to be treated with love and respect.


You see, being a parent of a special needs child is not easy. Our children have a hard time connecting with others. Many times they lack social skills and have a hard time reading body language. Sometimes they don’t understand sarcasm or humor. They might have difficulty with connecting emotionally with others. It is hard to see through someone else’s eyes, but when we try, we understand on new levels, we have fresh perspectives, and we become more tolerant and kind.

The parents of children with special needs will always advocate for our children. This is why we write books, become public speakers, start movements, create campaigns and manage Non-Profits. Our children drive us to become better versions of ourselves. We will never stop talking about our children. We are a proud group of people in a select category called upon to change the world to welcome our kids with love. We will never, ever apologize for that.

Life Lessons Learned from Veggie Tales


He thought it all over. He made me just right. I make him happy- I am his delight. Jacob squeals as he drops a book in my hands and then claps his together. His face is filled with excitement as he says, “More More.” This is Jacob’s “go-to” word. It means, “please read this to me.” I began reading Veggie Tales, “God Made You Special” to my overly animated 2 year old son. He loves looking at the brightly colored animated pictures. This simple children’s book is affirming that we are made exactly how we are meant to be. I read on:  He picked out my smile, my eyes, and my nose. He was very particular from my head to my toes.


Jacob is perfect the way he is. It is no accident that my sweet son has Autism. He was made exactly the way he should be! He never was upset by his diagnosis. It was me – I  had to wrap my head around it. Sometimes I feel down. Sometimes I feel blue, don’t like something about me- it’s sad but it’s true. I found myself frustrated and confused at the situation at hand. We had hopes and dreams for Jacob and saw them shift in an instant. Why our family? I would be lying if I told you this did not cross my mind a million times! But I’m reminded that God had a plan. He wants me to be the way that I am. If our lives are truly about more than just living for ourselves, then we have to trust that something bigger than us is taking care of it all and none of us are here or made the way we are by accident. We have very specific purposes and are uniquely special. So next time you look in the mirror, you’ll see his touch… ‘cause God made you special and he loves you very much! Celebrate what you see in the mirror. Celebrate that you are one of a kind. You have very specific talents and gifts that you are EXACTLY the way you should be!

Originally Published  for RVA Parenting on June 7, 2017