Not all special needs parents are alike…….

I often think of this line when I think of being a special needs parent. ” Hey, you live in Canada, do you know my cousin? He lives in Winnipeg”
No, I don’t know your cousin, and no, I don’t know Jane, who worked with your mom 10 years ago, who has a son in a wheelchair. I am sure Jane is a great person, and so is her son, but beyond our kids having a disability, we don’t really have anything in common.
I am so very, very grateful for the life long friendships I have made with other special needs families, and I cherish them dearly. I am also so happy to have met and continue to meet many friends who are also on the same journey in life as I am. I treasure these relationships, and they give me much value in different areas. A shoulder to cry on, someone to drink wine with, someone to show my son’s IEP to, someone to help me find funding, and someone to swap equipment with. And my hope is always that every parent who has a child with a disability, will have at least one other person in their life that is going through the same thing so they have each other. It is great to have a mix of people in your life, it is good to have friends from all walks of life but just because our kids may have special needs, doesn’t mean we need to be friends. Does that sound mean? I hope not. I think that just like in the real world, there is ususally a common denominator that brings two people together, but then if the relationship is to flourish, there must be more. And as horrible as it is to say, there are parents out there who have kids with special needs, who other people just don’t want to be friends with. I am sure that I am one of those people sometimes because I can be a bit overbearing 🙂
I am very forgiving to my “typical” friends when they moan about how busy they are, or how Johnny is late with his walking, or how Susie has a bit of a lisp and won’t eat anything but grapes and gummy bears, and how they can’t believe how expensive soccer is. They are not saying these things to make me feel bad, it is just their life, and they are sharing it with me, and I like that most times because it is “normal”. I also find that they stop themselves quickly, without prompting, to apolgize when they really don’t need to. But when I meet a special needs parent, who is so oblivious to the feelings of other special needs parents, it makes me angry and it makes me sad. I want to hear you brag about what your child has learned and accomplished, for sure, it is amazing always. But please do not complain to me about how Billy’s gait looks horrible when he walks ( he is walking, be proud) or how you are so depressed about Little Lucy needing a wheelchair because that is your worst nightmare, or say things about how lucky I am that my son is floppy, and not stiff ( I don’t think lucky is the right word) Stop making all of us feel bad or inadequate with your negativity. Maybe just take a moment to assess your audience, and think before you speak, and save your celebrating for a different time. I realized very quickly over the last five or so years, that there are just going to be people that add to your life, or detract from it, and special needs parent or not, life is too short for people who bring me down.

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