An Open Letter to Parents of Special Needs Children

I’ve got something to tell you, and I’m pretty sure you all need to hear it right about now. Whether it’s back to school time coming up shortly, or your kid has already been in school for the past few weeks, it’s going to be okay. It may not seem like it now – with the routine changes and the frustrations of explaining once again why sitting Johnny by the door is an invitation to disaster, but it will be okay.

I’m not just talking about school either. I’m talking long term here. I know you’re worried about your children and their ability to cope in a world that seems have the deck stacked against them. I understand your fear that your sensitive child will have his nascent ego shattered by an unkind word or action. I feel your frustration when the services that you worked so hard arrange fall through.

I get it. I really, really do.

So here’s the first phrase:

It’s going to be okay.

You will get through this with the love and support of friends and family. You will fight for your child with more ferocity and determination than you knew you possessed.

Your child will surprise you again and again with their resilience.  They will fill your heart with joy as they progress towards their current goal. You will be there every step of the way, cheering their accomplishments, comforting them in their setbacks, and helping them get set to try again,  because that’s what you do.

Now here’s the second phrase:

You are not alone.

You will get through this with the love and support of friends, family, and community supports. Your child will survive – and thrive – because there are so many great teachers, therapists, personal support workers, doctors, and parents out there to help them. They will shine as the world slowly changes to accept that different from does not mean less than.

You’re in the trenches day in and day out. It can be hard to see the forest when you’re staring at one tiny sapling bending in the wind, but I can see the forest. It’s beautiful and full of hope.

Our children are growing up learning that our differences make us special and that everyone deserves love and respect. Yes, there are some adults who never learned that lesson, but they are the minority. Most of the world sees your child not as an object of pity, but simply as another child. Don’t let the unfortunate few who have not moved with the times cast a shadow over your happiness – keep moving until you are no longer touched by their shadow.

As the parent of a special needs child, you are raising hope. You are raising part of the next generation, the generation who teach the world being different is awesome and everybody has something to contribute to society, even those who cannot speak for themselves, or those who are more finely in tune with their senses than the rest of us.

Children today are more accepting than even their parents, who, in turn, are more tolerant than the generation before them. Change doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen. The world is changing, slowly but surely, and kids like yours are the catalysts for this transformation.

Take a deep breath and repeat after me:

It’s going to be okay. Because you are not alone.


By koalateagirl

Jenn Annis is a writer, editor, historian, special needs advocate, and tireless defender of the Oxford comma. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


    1. Yay. You got to comment. 🙂 (Unlike last time when it was glitchy). The back to school stress is palpable this time of year – I felt like I needed to say something. This is what came out.

  1. So I know this post is a year old, but I just read it today. And I wanted to say thank you. My middle child is 7, and he has a lot of constipation issues, which causes him to soil his pants. There’s no easy fix for it, and we’re doing all we can to overcome it. My husband and I were really struggling over the summer if we should just home school him….because it’s a lot to handle. He has to always have changes of clothes with him, he has to wear Pull-Up’s still, he has to have a regular bathroom routine, etc. Anyways. I went to talk to the principal of his school, and let me tell you, I was blown away by how amazing she was. She went to such great lengths to ensure that he is able to stay at that school, and it meant the world to me to see how much the staff at that school cares. And knowing that they care about him like that really gives me hope that it will be okay. So thank you again for this wonderful reminder 🙂

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