There is some really wonderful advice in this section of the blog! I’ve encountered many families with special needs over the course of my work and teaching. Some have had special needs that I know nothing about. Others have had special needs with which I’m very familiar. All the families had something in common, though: they were all very knowledgeable about the need with which they were dealing. They were all doing research, reading up on the latest news about the issues affecting their family, and had a very good handle on how their lives were being impacted.
This is true for us as well. As we move forward with Picasso, we are becoming more knowledgeable on all of the issues affecting him. We find that we at least peruse new books on the subject – whether they are biographies or more information-based. We spend time reading articles online. There is a lot to know and a lot to learn.
Moms of special needs children need a break, just like anyone does. Sometimes it helps her to process all that she is learning if she can talk about it. Other times, she’d just like to get out of her environment for a bit and go for coffee, or meet up with friends. If you know a mom of a special needs child, invite her to spend time with you – and if she needs to talk about what she’s reading and learning about her child, please let her. If she seems more ready to just be out with friends and enjoy the company, let her do that, too.
Often, families will share the fact that their child has special needs with just a few who need to know, and a few trusted friends. The best thing that we can do in this situation is to let the families share about their child when they are ready, or when they feel someone needs to know. There is often the fear of exclusion – the fear that their child will be viewed differently if the special need is made fully known.
Best advice? Be sensitive. Ask how you can help. Be available when your friend is ready to talk or spend time. Our society has gotten away from hand-written letters and cards, but I can assure you that sometimes nothing is better than the small gesture of sending a card or note – knowing that someone is thinking of you! A little gesture goes a long way to being a blessing for the person who needs to know you care!