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12 Things I've Learned About Being a Special Needs Parent (So Far)

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As we all know, parenthood can be a daily challenge. When you’re pregnant, your hope is that your baby will be healthy and delivery will be without any complications. I never really gave much thought to what it would be like to have a child with special needs or what it meant to be a parent to a child with special needs.

Fast forward to year 12 with our son who has autism. This is what I’ve learned (so far):

1. I’ve learned to be my child’s advocate. I can stand up in a room and fight for what’s best for my son. There’s no time for stage fright.

2. I’ve learned to be an expert in acronyms like IEP and OT. If you don’t know what these mean, you might not be a SNP.

3. I’ve learned that doctors don’t always know what’s best for my son, and it’s OK to let them know that.

4. I’ve learned the school system may only give you the least amount of info needed when it comes to our son, and that getting the services he deserves and needs doesn’t just happen.

5. I’ve learned about real friendships through the tough times.

6. I’ve learned how to celebrate the simple things.

7. I’ve learned the cycle of victory and defeat can feel unending at times.

8. I’ve learned I’m now an educator. I educate others about my child’s strengths, potential and abilities.

9. I’ve learned milestones are different with a child with special needs, and they should all be celebrated! I’ve also learned how to see my “typical” children’s achievements and realize what is truly important.

10. I’ve learned how many other parents are in my community, and they are the strongest, most courageous and kindest parents you might ever meet.

11. I’ve learned to have perspective. Daily.

12. I’ve learned I’m going to keep on learning every day, and much of my learning will be from our child with special needs. He teaches me and those lucky enough to be around him daily.

Follow this journey on Know Different.

Originally published: August 12, 2015
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