There are many expectations we have throughout our lives and this fact becomes even more true when becoming a parent. We expect that our child will love us. We expect that our child will cry. We expect that our child will crawl, walk, run, and talk. Most parents, however, do not have an expectation that their child will be diagnosed with some sort of disability. But here you are. Here we are.
Many feelings and thoughts can be swirling around your mind the moment the diagnosis is shared with you. Some individuals are angry. How could this possibly be the lot that has been handed to my child? While others feel a sense of relief, an explanation for all the symptoms and delays that have occurred with your child. Almost all have some fear. What does this mean for my child and his or her future; for my family and our future?
At the center of all these thoughts and emotions is loss. Grief. The deep longing for your child to be as you expected; healthy. Physically, neuro-cognitively, and emotionally. The demands that have now been thrust upon you are even greater than anticipated. You’ve just had to add on doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, financial planning appointments, oh, and that trip over to the all- natural grocery food store. So these feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and loss get pushed away to make room for the tasks of the day.
Caring for a child with special needs is like a marathon. In order to sustain yourself to completion you must fuel and refuel at regular intervals. This means affording yourself needs of the body, mind, and soul. Emotional and mental health are of the upmost importance. Only part of the obstacle to complete a marathon is in the physical exertion, with the rest being a battle forged in the mind. These feelings previously mentioned come raging back upon you, in moments of stillness and silence. They must be spoken to and cared for in order for you to finish this race.
Allow me to join you in your family’s journey. Your feelings, your struggles, and your successes are real, are valid, and are important. Responses to the daily stressors that come with parenting a child with special needs are unique. Let us work together to find balance in coping with the emotional, social, physical, and spiritual needs of your family.
About the Author
Ashley Beard is our developmental child specialist. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) that works with individuals, families, and groups. Ashley has spent her career working with those dealing with trauma, and is a certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (TF-CBT).