My Child has Special Needs… Now What?
Working as a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and owning a pediatric therapy business, I have seen parents react in so many different ways over the years to the news that their child has special needs. I’ve seen parents who are totally devastated by a speech delay and parents who calmly react to a life-long diagnosis of something like Autism or hearing loss. Whatever the news and your reaction, it’s important to realize that it is okay to be sad and normal to grieve what you thought your life would be like. Give yourself that time to take it all in. From this point on, you have so much to learn.
You may be a person who needs to take immediate action, and that’s great. I would suggest, if that’s you, find a tribe of parents who have kids with similar needs and get to know them. This is beyond easy to make happen today, even if it is just joining a Facebook group. These are the types of connections that will be golden to you in the journey ahead with your child. You might end up leaning on them for things you could never imagine, like getting through a simple daily routine. While you’re at it, find out what resources are in your community. Is there a pediatrician that has more experience in working with kids with different needs? What therapists might you need? You can never do too much research.
If you’re a person who needs time to process, then allow yourself that. Take what time you need to digest, to process, to talk through what you’re feeling and thinking. Just know that there are a lot of people who have been in your shoes, even if you feel isolated at this moment. You are so far from alone. This will be different and there will be difficult days, but you will also learn to celebrate the most special milestones in your child’s life that others take for granted. You will get to see the purest hearts of so many people as they chip in to help you and your family. You’ll meet the most wonderful people, who you would never have met if it weren’t for this.
Whatever your reaction, and whatever path you set yourself on, you are doing what is best for your child, and you don’t have to do it alone.