Here’s The Worst Thing You Can Say To A Mom Of A Special Needs Child

Raising children is a hard job and not for the faint of heart. And raising a child with special needs is even harder, and comes with a unique range of challenges.

Never-ending doctor’s appointments. Behaviors. Food allergies. Medications. Special schooling. And the continuous feeling of trying to keep all the plates spinning in the air, with nowhere to turn.

Many well-intended family members and friends are often at a loss at what to say, or how to help. But there are two words you should never say to a mom raising a child with special needs.

In fact, this phrase is one of the worst things you could ever say to a mom. These two simple words, while they seem sincere, come across as insulting and demeaning.

The phrase “I’m sorry”, might sound like words of comfort to a struggling mom, but it often has the opposite effect.

Saying, “I’m sorry” devalues the child –it’s as if you are telling a mom “I’m sorry you got that kid, I couldn’t handle that burden.”

You see, moms don’t want pity. They don’t want people feeling sorry for them, or to make them feel less than.

And they certainly don’t want people viewing their children as a burden or a project.

Parents reported on other things you should never say to the mother of a child with special needs:

“This is just temporary, right? Your child will “get better” as he/she gets older.”

My son is not going to recover from autism because autism is the way his brain works. Sure, he’ll change as he gets older, but the idea of “getting better” is wrong-headed and reinforces his condition as disease, not difference.

He/she looks normal. Are you sure he has special needs?

Although my son may not look disabled—he’s not in a wheelchair and doesn’t have other visible markers of disability— he still has special needs. Many kids have “invisible disabilities,” and they shouldn’t have to prove them simply because the world cannot see them.

Your child wouldn’t have meltdowns if you disciplined him.

There’s a huge difference between a goal-driven temper tantrum and the meltdowns kids with special needs face. These meltdowns are caused by sensory overload, an inability to communicate, and many other sources, and they’re qualitatively different than temper tantrums.”

It’s important to remember, even though a child has special needs, they are still valuable and have unique talents and gifts to contribute to the world.

Telling a mom you are “sorry” for her child, gives off the impression you pity her. Questioning her ability to “discipline” her child, insinuates you think she is a bad mom.

But moms of special needs children don’t need pity or criticism. They need love and compassion. They need help and support.

And most importantly, they need rest.

Moms who are raising children with severe behavioral issues, often find the average high-school babysitter is not able to care for their child. And sadly others, even family members, are often afraid of what they don’t know, so they refuse to help.

But if you have a family member or a friend who is raising a child with special needs, there are things you can do.

Start with encouraging her. Tell her she’s doing a good job. Offer praise and kind words.

You can also include her and her child with playdates. She may politely decline, or she just may jump at the chance to have her child included. Many children with special needs are often cast aside or rejected, and by loving her child enough to invite him/her to an event, you are showing love to her.

Offer to babysit, or volunteer to run errands for her. Things like grocery shopping or running to the post office can be challenging for all moms. But for moms raising a child with special needs, these tasks feel all but impossible.

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And finally, don’t forget to be a friend! Book that girls spa day, or keep that coffee date you’ve scheduled. Sometimes, just getting away and having a fun night out is exactly the refreshment a mom may need.

Being a mom is hard. And moms need to stick together and help one another out.

The last thing a mom wants to hear is criticism or unsolicited advice.

So think twice when interacting with a mom who is raising a special needs child. Don’t pity her or think of her child as less than.

Kids are kids, whether they have autism or are in a wheelchair. Kids want to feel loved and accepted, and moms do too.

What are some creative things you can think of that would help a mom raising a child with special needs?

Tell us your ideas in the comments below.

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