When I Stopped Feeling Helpless as a Special Needs Mom


We were quickly thrown into the world of special needs after my son, Junior’s first failed hearing test as a newborn. A diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder and delayed motor development as a toddler soon followed. In the last three years, I’ve run the gamut of emotions. I’ve felt fear and anger, faith and joy, encouragement and triumph, despair and emptiness. Sometimes many emotions in a day; sometimes opposite emotions in a single train of thought.

But I can handle the fear, anger and grief. It fades with time as life takes on a new normal. Eventually the good days and bad days mingle together and make up reality.

But there’s one emotion I haven’t been able to get used to. One emotion that cuts deeper than anything else and that doesn’t seem to fade with time or experience.

I can’t fix it. I feel helpless.

My boy screams, and I don’t know why. I don’t know what he wants or what will make it better. I’m his mom. I’m supposed to know his needs before he knows them himself. That’s my job, and I’m failing miserably.

I see him in Auditory Verbal Therapy, trying so hard to enunciate his words. Trying to listen with his cochlear implants and doing his best to figure out if I’m saying “cat” or “hat” or “rat.” I want to help him. I want to magically give him good speech and ears that work perfectly. But I can’t. I’m helpless.

I see him in Occupational Therapy, getting frustrated with his hands and feet not working as quickly as his brain. I watch it escalate into a meltdown. I long to make his brain work seamlessly with the rest of his body, but I can’t.

I see him screaming in public because he doesn’t know what else to do. The sights and sounds are just too much, and he can’t filter everything out the way we can. So he yells. I’m met with harsh stares and snide remarks from onlookers.

Then, I look at my little boy and see that smile. I hear him say “Mama,” which is clear as day, even to a stranger. I feel his little hand tugging on me to sit down and play blocks with him.

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And then I realize. He doesn’t need to be fixed.

He needs love.

He needs patience.

He needs to be seen for who he is, not who he isn’t. His perfect little French fry-loving, “Curious George” obsessed self. He needs to be accepted and cherished.

I’ll admit, sometimes I just want to go into a quiet restaurant and not worry that he’s going to do a pterodactyl scream that will get us kicked out. Sometimes we’re all tired, and I wish his road were a little smoother.

He’s not like every other little boy, but that doesn’t mean I need to fix him.

Helpless means I can’t do anything… but I can love him, adore him and give him my time, and that’s all he really needs. I guess I’m not so helpless after all.

This post originally appeared on Save Money, Live Joyfully

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