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What Really Helps Me as a Special Needs Parent

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I could list many things that make life a little bit easier as a parent to a child with special needs — from Firefly shopping trolley seats and adequate Changing Places to the new chair my son Brody received from his physio and occupational therapist to eat meals in (it’s a game changer). Let’s not forget Disney Pixar, you evil genius you. “Toy Story,” “Monster Inc.” and “Cars” have been life savers too.

But what helps the most is people – family, friends and even strangers – just getting it.

There are always going to be people in your life when you’re a parent to a child with disabilities, who just don’t understand, listen or have an ounce of empathy. They live in their disability-free bubble and well, that’s them and that’s life. But boy am I grateful for the ones who are really there for us – they just make life so much easier…

The family members who offer endless love, support and help.

The best friend who remembers every appointment and gets that sometimes you can
talk about the harder things easily and sometimes you just need to cry.

The empathetic health professional who seeks answers and listens — not talking at you like your child is another undiagnosed science project on their list.

That mum or dad you walk past, who gives you that “I’m with you, Mama” glance.

The nursery or school staff member who works hard to understand your child’s needs and provides the best possible care away from home while at the same time keeping
your child happy.

The stranger in the supermarket who smiles and returns a wave, acknowledging
your son or daughter. And the ones who don’t give you judgmental stares when
your child is having a meltdown or making noises.

The mums we meet along the way, through nursery, school and groups, who make you feel less isolated and more like your normal is, well, normal.

The guys who make the quotes that hang on our walls and fill our Facebook newsfeeds, tapping into our feelings so accurately (no, not you “nothing tastes better than skinny feels” meme).

And the Facebook groups where virtual strangers near and afar share their ups, downs and “been there” advice. We are an army.

So, listen up, people! Being kind really can make all the difference. And it
costs nothing.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us an unexpected act of kindness, big or small, that you’ve experienced or witnessed in an everyday place. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 17, 2016
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