When People Think I’m ‘Sensitive’ About My Child With Special Needs
“I know how sensitive you are about these things.”
Ouch. It was a comment made in an attempt to be sensitive to my feelings, but it felt like a punch to the gut.
“These things” she was referring to happened to be people leaving out, discriminating against, bullying or otherwise hurting my son, A-Man.
I get a bit sensitive when my other son, Mr. C, is invited to a play date for the fourth time in a row without A-Man.
I get a bit sensitive when people imply I should avoid having more children with special needs.
I get a bit sensitive when someone asks me why my son doesn’t play like a “normal” kid.
I get a bit sensitive when people criticize me for feeding my son foods he will eat instead of forcing food he can’t tolerate.
Yeah, I guess she was right.
A-Man is routinely left out because people won’t make an effort.
I’m not ignorant. I know it can be more challenging to take a child with autism to the park than to take a child without any special needs. I know when family and friends want to take Mr. C for a play date, they just need to buckle him in the car and let him play, while taking A-Man requires pull-ups, pre-planned snacks and handling potential meltdowns. I know Mr. C can easily listen when someone tells him to stop playing with something, while A-Man can easily become fixated on something (and it’s usually something he shouldn’t play with, like cords and wires).
But I also know it doesn’t take that much effort to make something work for A-Man. Pack some extra baggies of goldfish crackers, give him some time to adjust to new surroundings and he will have just as much fun as Mr. C almost every time. There are some events A-Man truly can’t handle, like spending the night somewhere new or going to Chuck E. Cheese, but those are the exception and not the rule. So yes, when A-Man is left out of an outing or event he would really enjoy simply because it might take a bit more effort, I’m sensitive about it.
People say terrible things about others with special needs without realizing.
I know in this day and age, it’s nearly impossible to say anything without offending someone. I believe that’s especially true in the special needs world. It feels like if I say A-Man is autistic I might offend roughly half of the population, and if I say he is a boy who has autism I might offend the other half. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially if they don’t have any reason to understand children with special needs. I do realize most people are not intentionally being cruel, but sometimes it gets really old. When someone asks what’s wrong with A-Man or says something like “my child would never still be in pull-ups at 4,” I get a tad sensitive. Right now A-Man doesn’t understand cruelty, which I’m incredibly thankful for, but one day he will. I will not allow people to insult him no matter how sensitive that may make me.
Being a special needs mama can be hard.
This is probably the biggest reason I’m sensitive. Between the pull-ups, meltdowns, food sensitivities, therapies, specialists and 947 other things we deal with every day, we honestly don’t have the time or energy to deal with people being terrible to/about us or our kids. We are tired and overwhelmed. We get overly excited over small victories, like a trip to the grocery store with only one meltdown, and we can get easily upset by difficult setbacks. When you heavily favor our kids without special needs over those with, or you make nasty comments about our kids or our parenting, it adds another thing to our already heavy load.
So friends, we know you aren’t trying to be cruel, and please know we’re not trying to be overly sensitive. Most of the time, we are just sensitive for our kids with special needs because we have to be. The world isn’t always sensitive to them and their needs, so it hopefully isn’t too much to ask for our friends and family to be a bit sensitive to our needs.
Follow this journey on This Outnumbered Mama.
The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability and/or disease. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.
Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images