What you don’t know about special needs parenting but probably should

This post has a very special purpose. It focuses solely on the challenges of being special needs parent. As special needs parents, we all know that the challenges are well worth it and there are many positive as well but the goal here is to help the rest of the world better understand what we go through as parents. 

One of the toughest parts of being a special needs parent is trying to get others to understand even a small percentage of what daily life is like for families with special needs children.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Autism, Downs Syndrome, ADHD, SPD or anything else. As a parent, your life is impacted in ways most can’t even begin to understand.

There’s no such thing as a level playing field when it comes to special needs families.


The world is largely unforgiving and doesn’t care how on some days, it’s literally just a struggle to survive. No one cares that you haven’t slept in days or that your child requires you 24/7/365.

There’s no holiday’s or breaks. In fact, in many cases, the special needs parent will be doing this until the day they die. They will also spend everyday of their lives worrying about the day they will no longer be on this Earth to care for their child with special needs.

Everything that comes easy to most is a constant struggle for families with special needs children.

It sometimes takes an hour just to get shoes and socks on my youngest and I’ve given up on requiring him to wear clothes while he’s home.

I have to prepare three different meals for each meal of the day because each one of my kids have sensory issues that make it exceptionally challenging to feed them. They of course, don’t share the same challenges and food proclivities, so I have to treat each individually. The kicker is that I will often have to remake what I made because something was wrong with it. 

Before you tell me that they’ll eat when they’re hungry, let me ask you this. How hungry would you have to be before your would eat the treats your cat leaves in the litter box?  Sounds dramatic but that’s how offensive kids with sensory issues can find their food. They will quite literally starve before eating something they find sensory offensive.

Don’t even get me started on school. Between bullying, IEP’s and ill equipped schools, everything is a battle.

There are no slow lanes in life and regardless of the challenges being faced by special needs families, we still have to play by the exact same rules as everyone else.

We still have the same responsibilities as everyone else. No one cares that you might already be drowning in the overwhelming challenges of day to day life or that your child was hospitalized once again due to their fragile health. There are still bills to pay and jobs to do.

As someone who has experienced this every single day of his life, for the last 15 years, I can tell you that it takes its toll.

It impacts every single aspect of my life. It affects everything from your personal health to your relationships with family and friends. I don’t know how to make that any clearer.

So I thought I would toss each one of you the mic and ask that you share some of the challenges you face in your special needs parenting life. Maybe something that you wish people would better understand.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below or in the comments on this same post on The Autism Dad Facebook page.

Together, perhaps we can help the people in our lives to better understand…

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2 Comments on "What you don’t know about special needs parenting but probably should"

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Lisa Stetler Insana
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My special needs kids are now grown but I haven’t forgotten the challenges. We have a couple who are friends who’s 9 year old son brings those memories glaringly back to life when we get together. Screaming out cuss words. Running around inappropriately touching someone repeatedly, crawling under the table at the restaurant. My kids are both ADHD. My oldest is also bipolar, mildly retarded and developmentally delayed. Both are pretty normally functional. Both lived their childhoods as is driven by a never ending motor. My oldest wasn’t so much hyper as he was impulsive. VERY impulsive. Once he became… Read more »
Rob Gorski
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Wow…. Thanks for sharing your amazing insight. Nothing but respect for you here.. ☺

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