Flying Geese

Parenting a Child with Special Needs

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It is my personal opinion that parenting a child with special needs is in many ways similiar to parenting a typically developing child.  Both require much love, patience, nurturing, direction, discipline, and understanding. I suppose it's easy for me to have this perspective when I only have one child, who happens to have special needs.  I often say, however, that I wouldn't have raised my son any differently if he did not have special needs.  I'd still be overprotective!!!

Potty training

Potty training any child is a challenge. Consult your pediatrician about how best to go about it, since each child is different. Something that most parents and pediatricians agree on, though, is that one should let a child proceed at his or her own pace.
For children with special needs, however, the child's pace for toilet training may be much slower than typically developing children.  My son is nonverbal, and there is a direct correlation between language developing and toilet training.  As a result, my son was not completely toilet trained until 6.5 years of age.  This was quite a challenge.


I encourage parents to maintain a positive relationship with your child's teachers and other school staff.  I always had eyes and ears in the school - people who would anonymously report to me and inform me of any situations to which I needed to pay close attention.  I also made impromptu visits to my son's school periodically.  This allowed me to see what really goes on in the school when the staff is not aware that I may be visiting. 



By Emily Perl Kingsley



I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people understand it, to imagine how it would feel.  It’s like this…


When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make wonderful plans.  The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.  It’s all very exciting. 


After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.  You pack your bags and off you go.  Several hours later, the plane lands.  The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”


Holland?!?” you say.  “What do you mean, Holland?  I signed up for Italy!  I’m supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”


But there’s been a change in the flight plan.  They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.


The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease.  It’s just a different place.


So you must go out and buy new guidebooks.  And you must learn a whole new language.  And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.


It’s just a different place.  It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.  But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills.  Holland has tulips.  Holland even had Rembrandts.  


But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.  And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go.  That’s what I had planned.”


And the pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. 


But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about going to Holland.

Have some suggestions of your own? E-mail me and I'll post them here.