When I Was Scared to Say I Was a Special Needs Mom


My husband and I were talking the other night when out of the blue I asked him a question: “Do you tell people you’re a special needs parent?”

“All of the time,” he said.

I’ve thought a lot about whether I should identify as the parent of a child with special needs the past few years.

When my son was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, I didn’t think much about it at first. But when I started comparing my son to my fellow moms’ kids, I wondered if there was a range to determine if you’re a special needs parent.

How do I dare compare myself with parents of terminally ill children or babies who needed constant care, special equipment, nurses and so on? I didn’t want to discount these parents.

mom hugging son

But I also didn’t want to make light of what my child went through: the appointments, tests, surgery. I don’t want him to think what he overcame wasn’t huge or to be afraid of how this may affect his future.

I was scared to say I was a special needs parent. I was afraid people would judge me and roll their eyes at the fact that my son “looked normal” or think I was using it as a cry for attention. 

After his surgery, he was technically better. Does that mean I was a special needs mom, but I’m not anymore? With the possibility of more surgeries in his future, does that mean I still am?

I pondered these things. Afraid to identify with these other superhero parents. So I looked it up: Special needs can be associated with learning difficulties, emotional or behavioral problems or physical disabilities. Plain English. Easily understood. 

It was written out in front of me. My little boy has a special need.

It wasn’t something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. I believe it’s something we should say proudly.

I am a special needs mom. And you might be, too.

Don’t think just because your child may not seem sick or has overcome a great obstacle that you aren’t.

You’re part of a community, a group of parents who love and fight for their children — who are advocates for all kinds of disorders and diseases. 

We’re all on this rollercoaster called parenting together. With all of the highs and lows and twists and turns, I don’t believe we should worry about things like this. Let’s just lift each other up. No judgment. 

And to my other special needs parents: You are all rock stars. 

Follow this journey at Mrs. Bishop.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share a conversation you’ve had that changed the way you think about disability, disease or mental illness. 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 Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

What Cuba Taught Me About Being in the Moment After My Traumatic Health Scare

Do you ever hear a song and it immediately takes you back to a special place and time? I do with “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” (“Life Is a Carnival”). It is a popular song by the late Celia Cruz, a lady known for her vocal pipes, but also her loud fashion statements and sometimes wigs. Every time I [...]

10 Unexpected Lessons I've Learned From My Chronic Illness

When I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, it opened up a whole new world of experiences and perspectives. The effort I had to put into just existing in a society designed for the able-bodied changed how I saw the world. From the moment of diagnosis, I began a journey I could never have imagined, [...]

How to Be Married and Chronically Ill

Chronic illness is hard. Marriage is hard. You know what is even more challenging? Both. That is not to suggest all couples don’t face their challenges — because every relationship has difficulties. However, there are additional factors in a marriage where one or both spouses are disabled. I met my spouse in high school. He became my best [...]

So You Just Got an Ileostomy: 6 Unconventional Steps to the Next Chapter

You just left the hospital after major abdominal surgery. Your bed is no longer robotically adjustable, no one jolts you from your sleep to give you shots of heparin, and praise is no longer heaped upon you for basic human actions, such as sitting up. Welcome home. There are a lot of comprehensive guides out [...]