Ultimate list of encouraging blog posts for special needs families {and those who love them}

We have finally made it to day 31 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family!!! To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, we are ending with a bang and sharing special needs link love from all over the blogosphere. I hope that these posts will fill in the gaps that we weren’t able to cover this month and bring you encouragement.

Ultimate list of encouraging blog posts for special needs families {and those who love them}

For Special-Needs Moms

15 Things Being a Mom of a Special Needs Child Is and Isn’t

The Blessing of Being a Special Needs Mom

Moms: You Choose Love

15 superpowers of special needs moms

Finding Hope When Your Child Has a Special Need

Love Notes to Special Needs Moms

You Might Be A Special Needs Mom If…

Good Things About Being the Mother of a Disabled Child

 

For Special-Needs Dads

6 Secrets of Strong Special Needs Dads

7 things you didn’t know about a special needs dad

11 things a special needs dad wants you to know

Confessions of a Special Needs #Dad: The pain of losing my son

 

For Churches

7 Ways Churches Can Love on Children with Special Needs

The Importance of Special Needs Ministry

When Church Hurts

 

Marriage

3 Ways to Make your Marriage a Priority in a Special Needs Family

Staying United: Marriage and Special Needs

Is Happy Marriage Possible For Parents of Special Needs?

How to take care of your marriage when you have a child with special needs

Marriage With A Special Needs Child

 

For Friends and Family

The Power of Friendship: 5 Ways to Help a Special Needs Mom

How to encourage a special needs mom (when you aren’t one)

6 Ways to Encourage a Mom of a Special Needs Child

Why Your Special Needs Mom Friend Might Be… ‘One of THOSE Moms’

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

10 Little Things that Make a Special Needs Mom’s Day

7 PRACTICAL WAYS YOU CAN HELP A SPECIAL NEEDS FAMILY

What I Would Tell the Other Kids

I’m Jealous Of You

20 Things to Know About Special Needs Families

5 things to do after someone you love receives a special needs diagnosis

 

Homeschooling

HOMESCHOOLING A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

2012 Top Homeschool Special Needs Blogs

How To Combine Homeschooling and Special Needs Therapies (Without Losing Your Mind)

Homeschooling for Free and Frugal: Affording to Homeschool a Special Needs Child

Special Needs Homeschooling: an Adjustment in Expectations

10 Resources to Help You Homeschool a Child with Special Needs

~Homeschooling With Special Needs~

31 Days of Special Needs Homeschool Pinterest Hacks

#31Days of Homeschooling on the (Autism) Spectrum

 

General Posts

Dining Out with Special Needs Kids

11 special needs parent New Year’s resolutions

Navigating Disney with a Special Needs Child

A Comprehensive Guide To Special Needs Travel

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for Children with Special Needs

The Problem of Special Needs Siblings

Encouragement for Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Fruit of the Spirit Series

To the Sibling of a Child with Special Needs

Ten Steps to Living (a GOOD) Life in Between Doctor Appointments

Self Care for Special Needs Parents

When Your Special Needs Child Asks Why They Are Disabled

Pass the pull-ups please…the secret to potty training with autism…not really

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I’m sure there are plenty of posts we have missed, so if you are a special needs blogger, please feel free to share your favorite / top post in the comments! 

Dialogue: what not to say – and what TO say – to special needs parents

This is day 30 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page

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I had originally planned to entitle this post “What Not To Say To a Special Needs Parent.” But I believe that, as well-meaning as such a title might be, the intent behind what we are trying to do with this series might get lost.

We have taken a good long look at what community looks like – can look like – both good and bad, from both “sides” of the table. And the last thing that we want is for special needs families to become MORE isolated because non-special needs families simply don’t know what to say any more, how not to offend, what to do.

So what I would like to do with this post is share what some special needs parents have to say in regard to dialogue and communication. What things they don’t like to hear, and what things they do! This isn’t meant to be a list of “no-no’s,” but rather a helpful tool in engaging conversation all the way around.

From Katie Emanuel:

I personally don’t like when people say “We’ve all been there.” Or “My son throws tantrums too.” Having a child with autism and/or behavioral challenges is not the same as having a two year old throwing a tantrum. Or when people offer advice on how to help with “tantrums” who have neurotypical kids.

What I prefer is for friends simply to offer prayers, encouragement, and support. Such as, “What you are going through is so tough. Know that you are loved and prayed for. You are an amazing mom.” Or “I’m here for you any time you want to vent or someone to just listen.”

From Melissa:

I get upset when someone downplays what I go through by saying “I know how you feel.” No.. you don’t. You have never had your 6 year old child hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I promise you have not been there, nor do you worry every day of your life that one day your child will take their own life if you do or say anything wrong.

You also don’t know what it’s like to spend every waking moment of your life planning for every possible thing that could set your child off. From buying the right kind of socks that won’t bother her feet, to planning every single solitary aspect of every day and making sure your child is aware ahead of time of any and every thing. Most parents have the luxury of just doing things how they want it done and the child has to accept it.

I guess I just wish they would not say anything at all other than maybe, “I’m sorry you’re going through this, I’m here for you.”

Another thing that I truly dislike hearing is “I’m sure she’ll grow out of this.” No, I’m sorry, you cannot grow out of BiPolar and OCD. You may learn to cope with it better, internalize it more, but you do not grow out of it. They could say instead, “I hope that she’s able to find the right coping skills to lead a positive life and not suffer the way she does now.”

From Meredith Dangel (autism mom)

You’re a great mom for him. Keep it up.

I’m happy to know Henry.

Henry seems really happy and _____ (fill in an appropriate, positive adjective).

I’m here to listen if you need me.

Are you and Keith ok?

Can I cook you a meal sometime?

What can I do to help?

I love you.

From Beth Clay:

One of the things that I just really like to see is when people attempt to treat our son like any other of our children. I know it is hard sometimes, but it warms my heart when they at least make the attempt to engage him. I am not too easily offended by people who truly have not clue…it is nice when people make a genuine effort.

From Shelly Richardson:

I always get frustrated when people say, “I understand – my son/daughter went through that through tantrums like you wouldn’t believe… she will outgrow it. She is just immature.” But my all time biggest thing that gets right under my skin when I tell someone my oldest daughter has autism and they say, “Really? She doesn’t look like she has autism.” Just what does a child with autism look like?

From Sara Fleming:

The hardest thing for me to deal with is flat out denial. I cannot count the number of people who have said, “Well he looks healthy as a horse!” or “He is the just the picture of health!” or “I can’t believe he’s not skinnier; I thought kids with feeding tubes are really thin!” or “He doesn’t look like he’s got autism!” etc, etc, etc… I think most of it is from lack of education and ignorance.

Some people care and mean well, but don’t know what to say. Other times people just don’t want to understand because they don’t want to deal with it. I had a friend tell me flat out that it was hard for her to listen to me talk about my child because she was glad it wasn’t her children. People would rather live their lives in their own little bubble and pretend special needs don’t exist.

I wish others would sometimes not say anything at all, but instead just give me a big hug and say, “You’re doing a good job!” I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or throw me a pity party. I just want Stephen to be accepted, for people to understand that it is hard, and for people to care. I don’t expect people to “get it” because you cannot truly understand unless you have walked this path. I didn’t understand anything about special needs until I had a child who has special needs, and that’s the truth.

From Sarah Hawk:

Things like “What’s wrong with him?” to “He’s fine! He doesn’t have any needs – you’re making it up!” I have gotten it all. It is not supportive to tell me he has no challenges, it is not acceptable to call my son wrong. Supportive comments are things like, “He will meet that development when he can,” or “I can see the changes in him, he is doing very well.” If you want to know the diagnosis or why he’s different, I always recommend they start with a hello first, then they can follow up with, “I see you have a cane, or you have very white hair. What’s his diagnosis?” Put the person before the diagnosis or disability, and it’s always more supportive and conducive to getting answers. Related post: What’s In A Word: Albino

From Emilee Roberts:

When a child is having a sensory meltdown saying things like, “He needs to learn that behavior is not OK,” or “He just needs to be spanked,” along with things like, “Well, I don’t want to be around a screaming kid,” is pretty upsetting – especially when it’s a family member.

From Chantale:

I know it’s human nature to want to console but sometimes hearing “everything is going to be fine” when it really isn’t, hurts. Saying something like “I’m here to listen” or “How can I help” instead is much more helpful.

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Related posts from other bloggers on positive communication:

How NOT to Interact With My Special Needs Daughter

Things Special Needs Parents Want to Hear

10 Questions That are ok to Ask Autism Parents

Five Things you should NEVER say to the Mother of a Child With Disabilities or a Life Threatening Brain Tumor!

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I would love to hear from the audience on this one. What would you add to some of these comments? Do you agree, or disagree?

3 #Ausome Apps for Children with Autism

This is day 29 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Katie Emanuel is back, guest posting about her favorite autism-friendly apps for her son.  

3 ausome apps for children with autism Continue reading

25 Ways for Special Needs Parents to Recharge and Reach Out

This is day 28 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Chantale from Virtually a Teacher is guest posting about self-care for the special needs parent.

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How did I get here? Sitting on my bathroom floor, sobbing. I look up and in the mirror I see a person that I don’t recognize. A pale face from staying inside too often, eyes with black circles under them from years of sleepless nights, an overweight body from overindulging on comfort food and thinning hair from overwhelming stress. My heart is beating quickly, I can’t stop crying and I feel so alone. Who is this person? How did I get here?

I am a special need parent. Both my sons have autism. I love my children with all my heart. They are the same precious little boys I had before I heard the words autism spectrum disorder. So that label doesn’t define them in my eyes. I want to give them the world just like any parent wants for their child. The only problem is I put so much pressure on myself. While I’m trying to make them happy I forget everything else including taking care of myself.

Our special needs journey started 7 years ago when my eldest son was born. He was born premature and had many medical complications including pneumonia, a pneumothorax, an intraventricular hemorrhage and hydrocephalus. He was hospitalized for three months and we almost lost him a few times. I wished I could change places with him and I begged God, that if he had to take a life, to take mine instead of his. It was the hardest time of our lives but it was also the start of the greatest learning experience for us. During that time, nothing mattered other than our son. When you go through the heart wrenching experience of watching your newborn baby fight for his life, your view of the world changes. Things that used to be important just don’t matter anymore. Continue reading

5 Practical Tips for Successful (and Joyful!) Playdates with a Special Needs Child

This is day 27 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Katie from Wonderfully Made is guest posting about playdates! 

5 Practical Tips for Successful (and Joyful!) Playdates with a Special Needs Child

#1 Have them!

Neurotypical children and special needs children can learn so much from each other! The world is a big, uncertain place for all little ones, and forming friendships with families of all kinds helps prepare them for it!

#2 Keep them brief

Special needs families have schedules that are mind-boggling. They are constantly on the go, racing from therapy to therapy, appointment to appointment, emergency to emergency. Know that their time is precious. And that while part of them desires normalcy, such as having a playdate, their mind is also racing with a million other things and craves peace. To find a happy medium: stay for an hour, maybe two, and then head out. Realize that even if the child does not seem tired or on the verge of a meltdown to you, they need a break. In my son’s case, even if he does not appear to be on the verge of a meltdown, his exhaustion can hit later in the day and linger sometimes for days after a playdate that went on for too long. Also, sometimes a playdate needs to be cut short. If so, listen to the parents, offer a loving hug and to come back another time. Continue reading

Coping with Family Discord as a Result of your Child with Special Needs

This is day 26 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Stacy Warden has written a very practical piece for families who are struggling with extended family relationship because of their special needs child. 

olive branch1

One of the hardest aspects of becoming a parent to a child with special needs is how it greatly affects an existing family dynamic. It has the potential to cause strife, conflict and tension in the closest of families. In many cases this leads to a division in family relationships, hurt feelings, and the dissolution of a support system that is greatly needed.

The underlying reason for family discord can range from unsolicited advice about how you are the root of your child’s disability or reason for their lack of meeting milestones timely, to an unwillingness to make adjustments to a challenging situation like not being able to attend family gatherings because you have a child that has overwhelming sensory difficulties.

In severe cases it can be a difference of values – you refused to give up your child with special needs for adoption or place them in a group home, thereby having a child that causes the family great embarrassment. Or something that is out of your control; your child’s wheelchair doesn’t fit through their doors or would scratch your mother-in-law’s new hardwood floors. Family members may also have difficulty understanding and accepting that often times your life revolves around therapies, appointments, and doctor’s visits and dividing your time as you previously once did, can cause unavoidable distance.

No matter the root of the conflict, the same cooping mechanisms apply for getting through that very strenuous and painful situation. Continue reading

What Is Normal?

This is day 25 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Bethany is guest posting for us, asking us the question “What is Normal?” and challenging us not to compare our struggles.

Compared to many families we have things fairly easy. My son, recently diagnosed with PDD, (Pervasive Development Disorder, or high functioning autism) is verbal now – almost nonstop. He’s in a typical kindergarten classroom and thriving there. He’s even making friends! Compared to many special needs families, we are pretty…

Normal.

what is normal Continue reading

Community in the Midst of Special Needs

This is day 24 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Shelly Richardson is going to be posting her thoughts about community and how she has seen it played out in her life. 

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Being the parent of a special needs child is not for the faint of heart. So what if you have two? As I sit and write we are in the wait. The wait for a diagnosis that we already know in our hearts to be true, but still we try to deny it. Because, really – what are the chances? Two children with autism? One biological. One adopted.

We have walked this road before, the first time around we were newbies to the world of autism. Our first diagnosis came with the prevalence of children on the autism spectrum at 1 in 110. Now it’s 1 in 68. Add to that the incidence of being born with cocaine in your system, the fact that we have a sovereign God who leaves nothing to chance and guess what? Our chances are pretty high.

As we started down this road, meeting with therapists, doing the research, watching developmental patterns, everything was all too familiar. The signs were all there. We started dissecting her behaviors, started putting labels on her and then, in a second, we are back in denial. Because it is hard to accept. To know that everything in your child’s world is nothing but an irritant to her system and at just 3 years old she is searching for ways to cope. Because you know that she is being judged with each ear piercing scream, the biting of her arms, the hand thrown in frustration, the food slung across the table. It’s all being judged. And so are we.

As I said earlier, being a parent of a special needs child is not for the faint of heart, neither is being an aunt, uncle, or grandparent. Neither is being a friend. Community is hard in the special needs world. Everyone wants to empathize with you, they think they understand. But this? This is something you cannot fully understand – the physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that comes from being on alert 24 hours a day – not unless you live right in the center of it. Not unless you are the one that does not have the option to walk away when the waters begin to swirl, the winds rise and you see the storm approaching on the horizon. When you have not lived it, truly lived it, it would be like telling someone you understand how they feel when they lose everything in a storm, their home, their belongings, their loved ones. You tell them you understand because once a storm came and blew over a tree that just happened to hit the side of your house and damaged the roof. The rain fell through and ruined the carpet and a chair. The dog? He ran off and you could not find him for two whole days. It was horrible.

Do you notice the difference here?

These families know you want to understand, but really you cannot and they don’t expect it. Because until you have lived it… until we lived it… we did not understand. Continue reading

Special Needs Moms: Are You Special or Just Like Other Moms?

This is day 23 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Kerith Stull is being brave and asking special needs moms some hard questions about their own responsibility in community. 

Guest Post - Beautiful In His Time

There seems to be two opposing messages from special needs moms out there:

(1) The Special Needs Mom Superhero Myth. Some special needs moms believe that because they have it so much “worse” than typical moms that they have to be and are so much better than typical moms. It’s that whole “God only give special children to special parents.” In all honesty, I feel those pangs once in a while when I want others to notice my child and recognize my unique struggles. I proudly display a car magnet with signature colors on its ribbon announcing my child’s disability. I enjoy the extra kindnesses the members of my church show Brielle and me because of her “uniqueness.” But, I didn’t get any super hero powers just because my 18-year-old daughter, Brielle, has cerebral palsy. And I can’t seem to find my super hero cape anywhere amongst the well-worn clothes in my closet. Continue reading

Bridging the Gap

This is day 22 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Jennifer Janes is back again, discussing how to tear down walls and bridge the gap.  

Bridging the Gap {#31days of supporting the special needs family}

Special needs parenting is lonely. Parents of kids with special needs are torn about how to answer the simple question “How are you?” because the canned response isn’t true but the truth would drive people away with its harsh honesty. Parents of kids with special needs seem to congregate together—when they can find one another and circumstances permit. I wondered for the longest time where the non-special needs community was in all of this. Why do special needs families feel so isolated and abandoned? I did a survey on my own site (when I was gathering information for a book that has yet to be written), and the answers helped me realize that bridging the gap between the special needs community and the community at large is a more complicated issue than I ever dreamed. Continue reading

Special needs and community: how walls are built

This is day 21 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page.

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When Jeff Emanuel, father of a son with autism, first heard of our idea to expand the How to encourage a special needs mom post into a book, he told his wife, Katie, “It sounds like you are building bridges instead of walls.” And that’s exactly my intention with writing this series.

We’ve spent the last three weeks hearing the amazing stories of these amazing families. We have heard their hurts, their frustrations, and their intense desire for community and understanding. They want to see bridges built between their families and the general population.

Before bridges can be built, walls must be torn down. And before walls can be torn down, walls must be understood.

Special Needs and Community: How Walls Are Built Continue reading

Shea’s Story {on being a single special needs mom}

This is day 20 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, one of my local friends, Shea, is talking about her unique situation as a single special needs mom.

Shea's Story {on being a single special needs mom}

I am blessed to be a single mom to a three year old son and a two year old daughter. My son was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 years, 2 months old and my daughter was 7 months old. Their father and I separated less than two weeks later and are now divorced. Many people ask if the diagnosis was the catalyst for our split, but it wasn’t. I knew Holden had autism many months before he was diagnosed; obtaining the formal diagnosis was simply the next step to help him get the Early Intervention therapies that he needed. I share this background to explain that being a single mom to two young children, one of whom has special needs, doesn’t make me a super mom. It’s simply all I’ve ever known, and I’m just a mom doing what it takes to be the best mom I can be to both of my children. Continue reading

The Challenges and Blessings of Parenting Special Needs Children with a Chronic Condition

This is day 19 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Emilee Roberts is guest-posting about what her family’s life is like, dealing both with special needs children and chronic conditions of their own.

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We’re a special needs family. Our oldest son is on the Autism Spectrum, our daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and a pending diagnosis of ADHD, and our youngest son has SPD. I have SPD as well, so although it helps me better empathize when they are under- or over-stimulated, it can also result in my feeling overwhelmed. My husband and I also have physical disabilities. I have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as well as a possible auto-immune disorder. My husband has Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy among a slew of other issues caused by the chemotherapy from his cancer treatment a few years ago. Because he’s a Disabled Veteran, he even gets a number on his disability – he’s considered 90% disabled.

Phew! Did you catch all that? It’s the long way of saying our family has a lot of challenges, but we have a lot of blessings as well!

Challenges and Blessings Continue reading

In His Hands {4 lessons learned from adopting older special needs children}

This is day 18 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, Sheila Temple is sharing some of the things she has learned through her family’s international adoption of older special needs children.

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When Joshua was brought to the forefront to lead the Israelites, after the death of Moses, I am sure he had a lot of questions but also, a lot of faith.  When Joshua sent spies out into the new land to scope it out, I can see from his human perspective that the action seemed important.  I also know that God had already promised him victory and the land, no matter what they found in their investigation.

Much like Joshua, we are aware that God will be with us.  We also have the knowledge that He will help us do what men think is impossible. Many special needs adoptions are based on blind faith.  There is never a guarantee, much like children we bear, that things will go as planned.  Having two older children before we adopted was enough evidence for me that what you think is going to happen can be disappointing and has problems of it’s own, not to be overshadowed by the joys that abound.

These are 4 things that I did not know before adopting Zhang Zhou, Wang Xue, Ji Rong or Zeng Shu.   Our children were adopted at 3, 12, 6 and 12 respectively, from 2001 to 2006.   If I had known, it would not have changed the adoption process; I may have been better prepared for the new normal that was coming our way.

In His Hands {4 lessons learned from adopting older special needs children} Continue reading

Ezra’s Story: Not quite “typical”…not quite “special” {for the mom of the undiagnosed child}

This is day 17 of 31 Days of Supporting the Special Needs Family. To view the story behind this series and the series contents, please visit the landing page. Today, I’m sharing my son’s story.

ezras story

When I wrote my first post about special needs two years ago, How to encourage a special needs mom {when you aren’t one}, I was writing as the mom who “wasn’t one.” I was the bystander. I had the child who was soaring, soaking up information like a sponge – so far ahead of my friends’ boys who couldn’t eat or talk. The gap was obvious: my son was typical – their sons had “special needs.”

Now, our boys are four, and that gap is still there. Stephen is still on a feeding tube. Adam still only eats a handful of foods. There are still therapies, special education, IEP meetings, and so many other things that these boys go through on a weekly basis that I will probably never comprehend.

But as age two turned into three and three neared four, I started noticing more and more about my own son that was different. There were no developmental or cognitive delays, but his behavior was taxing. At first, I chalked it up to those terrible twos - hoping that the threes would offer some relief and maturity.

After he turned three, everything seemed even harder for him. He was always the one making a scene or getting in trouble. We started getting reports after Bible study or MOMs group of aggressive behavior – hitting, spitting, kicking, tantrums.

He’ll get over it. He’ll outgrow this.

But it just got worse. The days got longer and harder. The arguing more incessant. The screaming louder and more frequent. Night-times continued to be a fight. And as he got bigger and stronger, his behavior wore on me more and more. And nothing…I mean, NOTHING…we did as parents seemed to work consistently.

My thoughts started to change from What am I doing wrong? to Have I missed something?  Continue reading