Dear Other Parents of Children With Special Needs: This Is Why I Don’t Know What to Say to You

Dear parents of children with special needs,

I am a mother of three boys, two of whom have special needs. One has a terminal genetic rare syndrome, while the other has ADHD — and I don’t know how to talk to you.

Your child has a disability? Has Autism? Has Down syndrome? Your world is full of hope, challenges, overcoming challenges, seeing results, seeing your hard work pay off and fighting for your children to be accepting into society just like any other child (rightly so). Your world is full of love, courage, strength and heartbreak, too. It’s almost like mine but not quite.

When you tell me how well your nonverbal child can communicate using different methods and supports, I am envious. You encourage me to try the latest “app” or use a “pic board.” I’ve done all that when my son, Ethan, could retain information. And you’re right, it did work, just not anymore.

I just nod and smile. I’m really not trying to be rude.

When you talk to me about my son while we both wait to see the speech and language therapist, you tell me about the pace your child is progressing with the help of the therapist. I hope you don’t ask me; if you do, I lie.

I just nod and smile. I’m really not trying to be rude.

When you tell me about what works for your child with autism and how I could apply some of your ideas to Ethan’s schedule or how I could use your ideas to help with behavior and sensory issue to make Ethan’s and our lives a little easier, I appreciate it, I do. I want to tell you Ethan has forgotten his name; he can’t “remember” anymore, but I don’t.

I just nod and smile. I’m really not trying to be rude.

Geraldine Renton
I am Ger; wife to D and mother to three wonderful boys; Ethan, J and toddling D. We live in Ireland. I write about our life and the lessons my boys have thought me. Ethan has a terminal condition; J has ADHD and the toddler runs the house! We are trying to learn how to live, love and laugh again after Ethans diagnosis (of Hunter Syndrome ) in 2008. Ethan has thought us many things; the three L's being the most important -live, love and laugh. is indeed too short. Follow me at my blog, and Ethan's Facebook page.

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