6 Misconceptions Around Special Children and Special Parents
When you first discover that you are on a special journey, you can’t really think clearly. This can last for the first few months or even longer. There is a lot that you will have to figure out. And in that process, you will have thoughts and believes that aren’t really rational.
That’s ok, you should give yourself time. You will realize in time that you weren’t right about many things that first came to your mind.
I had some of those thoughts that I now know are misconceptions. Working with clients, I realized that we all have similar fears, misconceptions, and believes in the beginning.
Here are the 6 most common misconceptions around special children and special parenting:
1. My child cannot be happy like other children
There is a big difference between the thought: “My child IS not like other children,” and the thought “My child cannot be happy like other children.”
That fact that your child IS not like all the other children in the world is right. It’s not like everybody else. It has a unique soul and personality and purpose in this world, and therefore – it has to be different, right? I know that what you mean by “not like other children” means “a healthy child.” This has nothing to do with happiness.
A special child doesn’t move around grieving and complaining about disabilities and brain damage. A special child has its own perspective. A different perspective of living. If it is surrounded by love and their needs for food, water and warmth are met – the child is very happy. Trust me.
Just watch them. Watch how much they laugh. How they need so little to be content. Sometimes, just one song can make their day. Or one simple walk in the nearest park. I know for sure that Joana is pretty happy. She used to show that very openly before. She would smile out laud whenever she felt satisfied. If she was under the shower or walking in the park, or she listened to her favorite songs or ate something she liked, or if we were holding her- she showed how happy she is every time.
In the last six months, she suffered a crisis, and is still recovering (you can read about this in my article How to survive long hospital stays) and cannot express so much when she is happy or sad. But still, when she is left alone, and in peace, one could clearly see- there, she is happy. By “left alone and in peace,” I mean following her daily routine, allow her to rest enough, don’t put her under hard exercises, etc. We’ve learned that routines mean a lot to her, so we follow that schedule.
Joana always was and is happy. It was me that I didn’t see that clearly and put an enormous burden on myself.
2. My life is on hold.
What??? Don’t say that. Seriously, don’t. That’s not true, and I will prove it to you.
What do you mean “on hold”? Why?
What may be true is that your life will take another course. That might be true. Some changes will happen. This experience will reshape your personality. It will point you in other directions. You may become aware of the possibilities you weren’t aware of before. Some projects you wanted to accomplish may be delayed or won’t have sense anymore. But all of this doesn’t mean that your life is on hold.
It means that you got the chance to thrive and develop like never before.
One minute you were a regular person, and the other you become a doctor, a therapist, a nutritionist, a nurse, a specialist, and a professional organizer and time management expert.
Being a special parent gave you the chance to gain super extra mega skills. Not to mention how your instincts become sharper. My friends, you can rule the world thanks to the skills you now have. Please don’t say that your life is on hold. Every day, just by loving your child and taking care of it, you just thrive, thrive, thrive.
3. I will lose my friends.
That is not true. This is a big misconception. I think that this is connected to the fear of rejection we all have. But if we have doubt around it, it doesn’t mean it’s true.
I used to think that too: “now I am going to lose all of my friends.” That was my thought. And I am a little ashamed of thinking that. Because in reality, I didn’t lose one single friend. Those beautiful people who are still by my side, always were and remained my biggest support ever. They are compassionate, understanding, ready to hear me out, and they sincerely care.
You should not be afraid that you are going to lose all of your friends. What you need to do is to make sure that you are a good friend as well. Don’t act like you have the biggest problem in the universe, and everybody should follow your schedule. Show sympathy and understanding to the people you love and treat them as you want them to treat you. Acknowledge your friends and appreciate them.
And don’t worry if some of them get out of your life. This has probably nothing to do with the fact that you have a special child. We continuously grow and change and develop different interests, and it’s natural in time to get distant from some people.
4. There is not much I could do with my child.
Depends on how you look at things. You may not be able to climb high mountains with your child, go on a trip around the world, or have a long conversation about this and that. But there is plenty of things you could do together. You can walk in the park, drive in a car (Joana just loves a long ride), meditating, singing songs, cuddle and hug, play with multi-sensory toys, visit friends and relatives, go on picnics, watch something together.
It’s interesting how Joana doesn’t look exactly in the direction of the TV, but she clearly shows if she likes something. For example, Frozen is not her type of cartoon, and she seems nervous and inpatient when we play that on TV. But she just loves Moana, and we play that very often – to everybody’s pleasure in our home. We all love Moana so much😊. You can tell she likes it because when it’s on, she seems so relaxed, her eyes are sparkly, and she seems focused and pleased.
5. My child can’t what other children can
That is not true. Your child can experience different things other children can’t. Appreciate your child from where it is. Accept it completely. Special children receive unconditional love, and that is their biggest gain in this life.
We love our children unconditionally, and we don’t have any expectations from them. And we can’t make them do anything. That is a luxury that not many of us have.
Many parents write in their blogs that their special children got better in time. That they are a little behind in their development, but after many therapies, they gained more and more skills. So, with a lot of effort and commitment, special children can progress and move forward.
I would say here that not all children can do that. This may be true for some of them. Every parent knows their child the best and can recognize if there are room and potential for more. Some children, like Joana, have severe brain damage. If the child cannot even hold its head at this moment, we cannot expect that in three months for it to walk.
However, special children can do a lot. We should give them many chances.
6. This is all my fault.
I am familiar with the sense of guilt, and I think every special parent can relate to this. You may think you should’ve taken better care of yourself during the pregnancy or take the child to more therapies. Or you might just feel that you missed something you were supposed to do.
Nope! I don’t think so.
It is not your fault, and you definitely did the best you could in every situation.
I know that it is natural to fall in self-doubt from time to time, but don’t let it overwhelm you. One of the methods that help when you are overwhelmed by the thought “This is my fault” is journaling. You can journal, for example, answering the questions:
– How am I feeling right now?
– What thought has triggered me to feel this way?
– Am I sure that it is absolutely true?
– How would the reversed version of that thought sound? For example: “I am totally failing at this,” the reversed version would be, “I am great at this. I am getting better and better.” And then journal, which version sounds more faithful to you.
I encourage you to read these articles for more inspiration and find out that you are not alone:
Every belief we have is just a thought that we had a thousand times. And that thought became truth for us. The good news is that we can find out what thoughts are causing us suffering and analyze them.