Parenting a special needs child is a lonely business sometimes. Of course, loneliness is not at all unique to parenting but lately I have been hearing about this from a lot of parents and I think it is important. It is worth saying, if you are raising a child with special needs, you are not alone in the experience of loneliness.
It is lonely when you overhear other kids on the playground talking about how “weird your daughter is.”
It is lonely when your child struggles every morning to put on socks or tie shoes.
It is lonely when your child does not hit the developmental milestones other kids seem to master easily.
It is lonely when your worries and fears are dismissed as being overreactions.
It is lonely when you have to fight to get the right kind of services or educational supports.
It is lonely when your daughter tells you every day that she is stupid because she cannot read
It is lonely when your child has a temper tantrum or behaves in a way that makes you feel like an outsider.
It is lonely when you get a call from the inclusion specialist about how hard it is to include your child.
It is lonely when you feel scared about the future and other folks dismiss or minimize.
It is lonely when you go for help and the helpers see only the disorganization and miss the creativity.
It is lonely when your 12 year old cannot tie his shoes. It is lonely when he cannot make friends easily.
Suddenly you are not part of the big group, school, neighborhood etc. You are part of the special group. And the special group is busy and well maybe they are a group you really do not want to be in to begin with. Maybe your child doesn’t really fit neatly into a category or group.
Even worse, sometimes it is lonely in your own family. Maybe you and your partner disagree about how to approach an issue. Maybe just because of logistics and financial realities you do not have much of a chance to connect with each other or share the daily burden of responsibility. Maybe you are a single parent trying to juggle it all.
Today I am not offering a solution or simple fix. I just want to acknowledge the feelings. I want to say that there are good reasons for feeling lonely. I want to encourage you to reach out and connect where it makes the most sense for you. I want to remind anyone feeling particular alone that many others are in the same boat.