Community, Coping with the Challenges

The Needs of the Special Needs Mom

When we found out that our child had some severe developmental delays, it was the beginning of a very long and tearful journey. Is this your reality? Or perhaps you know someone whose dreams for their child have taken an unexpected turn.

Though the world may applaud her for her sacrifices and dedication, in reality the mother of this child has some special needs of her own.

The Needs of the Special Needs Mom

She needs a break.

After homeschooling a child with special needs for the past 7 years, one thing has remained consistent: this kid requires A LOT of breaks. But the mother needs breaks as well. Tension can rise quickly even during the most simple conversations. Hitting the pause button or even switching activities can prove invaluable.

She needs time away from her child.

Sometimes a short break is not enough. Because I spend almost every waking moment with my child, I am physically and mentally exhausted before day’s end. I’m thankful when my husband will sometimes take our son out before we both become completely unglued. On a more extreme case, my husband recently whisked me away to the beach for a couple of days because he knew stress levels were high in the home. Even though I resisted the idea (not because I hate beaches, but because the control freak in me didn’t want to leave my son for that long), it was a necessary time to recharge. If you have a friend in this situation, you can offer to take her kid out or, perhaps, she would appreciate it more if you took her out.

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She needs a listening, sympathetic, and compassionate ear.

Sometimes this mom needs to let it out, vent if you will. She wants to talk about how daily tasks are a common battleground, how she feels like she’s not doing enough to help her child, how it’s hard to join play groups, and how the frequent meltdowns are enough to keep her from leaving the house. She wants to talk freely without judgment. Though there is a place for a timely word of encouragement, sometimes she just needs a friend who will listen and weep with her.

She needs encouragement.

I’m going to be honest with you. Encouraging words for someone struggling in this are not the easiest things to come by. Should you tell her you can relate even though you don’t have a child with special needs? Should you go the practical route and suggest something from a parenting book you just read? Should you tell her everything will be ok or things aren’t that bad? Though meant well, sometimes these responses can sting the open wounds of an already hurting mother.

But don’t shrink back from reaching out to this mom. She needs you to be a true friend, even if you are not in the same situation as she is. The best encouragement I have received have come in the form of a prayer, a Bible verse, or simply “I love you.”

Do you have a child with special needs? What do you need right now?

40 thoughts on “The Needs of the Special Needs Mom”

  1. i dont homeschool my SN kid (i would go crazy) but ive been on this journey for 14 yrs and it’s tough. i learned to not feel guilty anymore for taking a “me-time” (no work, no kids, no hubby or chores) , even if its for 5 minutes…

  2. The other day I was proudly watching my son as he swam for the first time, he’s 31 and has learning difficulties and special needs. It can be such a long road and so very tough at times especially on mums. We need the extra encouragement and support to give us the strength to go the extra mile every day with our child. The Carer needs caring for x

  3. As a homeschooling mom of a special needs child I can identify and agree with this 100%, thank you so much for posting it!

  4. I don’t have a child with special needs but have friends that do. Taking them out or watching their kids while they go on a date is something I enjoy gifting them.

  5. You sound like one special lady! I do not personally know anyone with special needs children. However, I am thankful for mommas like you who are so brave and resilient. Sounds like you have a great hubby who is understanding as well…that is wonderful! I’m sure you are a huge blessing to other moms with special needs children. The hard times have a way of making us great teachers to others!

    1. You don’t know how often I feel so inadequate, even to encourage other special needs moms, but you’re right. God uses trials in our lives. He comforts us so we can comfort others.

  6. My best friend has two special needs boys. She has lived through challenges that make my head spin. We live across the country from each other but I’ve learned to be supportive by listening and encouraging her and just validating how she is feeling.

  7. I used to work with multiple families who had children with special needs. It can’t tell you how many time they would reiterate these points only to be misunderstood by the world around them. It can be heartbreaking to watch. I loved being able to step in and help, be that listening ear, or just simply be there. It rarely ever went unappreciated.

  8. Oh, sweet woman…you are breaking up the ground and bringing attention to a situation that has needed to be talked about for a long time. My brother has mental illness and trust me it has been a challenge. The church didn’t know how to help, so they kicked him out. Family didn’t want their kids to “catch” it, so they quit coming around, and my mom and dad were left not having anyone to help.It was exhausting day in and out, but God gave them strength. I pray God will provide you with His strength and people who will surround you with prayer, time to refresh your soul and spirit and love on you and your family unconditionally.

    1. That saddens me about your brother. There seems to be a growing awareness now. I know at our church, the ministry leaders are seeking special training and trying to see how they can minister to families with special needs kids. Thank you for your prayer!

  9. Times of refreshing are especially needed when we are walking through something difficult that we can’t get away from. We need to realize how important it is to help those who are weary to get breaks.

  10. I find such peace in the verses…
    Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
    And the young men shall utterly fall,
    But those who wait on the Lord
    Shall renew their strength;
    They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
    They shall run and not be weary,
    They shall walk and not faint.
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
    That being said, even God rested on the 7th day! I pray for you that God would give you strength but not just in your own self but in you as a woman, in your marriage, in your friendships, and more!

  11. My kids are raised. But when they were teens, I had no one to talk to about the fact that my kids still needed a babysitter, couldn’t go on the senior class trip, had to work on two way conversation.

    1. That must’ve been so hard! I hope that those who don’t have children with special needs will see the opportunities they may have to encourage another who is going through these challenges. I’m thankful for the women in my life who have courageously come alongside me, even though they personally haven’t gone through the same things.

  12. You know, to be honest, it’s really hard for me to find anyone I can talk to about my son and our challenges. He hasn’t officially been diagnosed or labeled so I feel like I can’t “connect” with those groups of moms that all have kids in the same situation as each other. Know what I mean? And yet, I do not desire a diagnoses. That probably sounds contradictory, but that’s the way of it, lol.

    1. I hear ya. We always thought, “Will it change how we raise our son if we had a diagnosis?” We were in the dark for many years with diagnoses that didn’t quite fit. And only now that he’s almost 12 that we’re revisiting the topic of getting him reevaluated because of some regression we’re observing. And you don’t need a diagnosis to talk to me about the challenges you face.

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