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The story of raising a special needs child

I just got done speaking at a cross-training seminar for various county agencies who provide services for at-risk youth on the “Parent Perspective”. The idea was to give counselors, special education teachers, MR/DD workers, county protective service case workers, etc, etc the perspective of the parent utilizing these services or involved with these agencies. You know a lot of times when these people are working with parents they are busy taking notes and developing plans and ideas of what they can or have to do in their head while they meet with the parents. So, the ladies leading the training wanted them to do nothing but actually listen to the stories, behind actual cases.

When I was approached about this I thought it was an excellent idea. It still is an excellent idea. In fact – I recommend it. Brilliant! What better way to cut through red tape and get people from all these different agencies to realize how great the sum of all their parts is put together.

I guess I just didn’t realize how emotionally exhausting it would be to really relive the story of raising a special needs child. It’s been such a long road. It’s so hard to talk about everything from the day I met D, raising a child traumatized from a sexual assault, raising him as a step-parent to adopting D, his Dad walking out, now helping JJ, another traumatized child cope from the exposure to D’s inappropriate sexualized behaviors and aggression, and D having to leave the home. It’s difficult to share with a room full of strangers how to reconcile the dreams of the family you thought you’d have or even the ideas of what others think a family is with the reality of what it actually is and living it day to day. I’m sure every mother/wife might struggle with that to some extent, but not everybody is dealing with having adopted a special needs child with such severe cognitive/psychological issues that impact the literal safety of the other children in the home that the adopted child must be removed and the overwhelming sense of guilt and failure the accompanies.

I got to tell them what services worked for me, what didn’t, what could work better. I couldn’t really find enough words to express to the group how I might be another case they are working, that they can put away for the day and go home….but for a parent living it…this is my life, this is my child and I live it every day and I do need help…lots of it….but I sure tried.

I really hope the points came across and at the very least the perspective helps…someone…anyone…a little more. That will be worth it.

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