Special Needs, What a Joke

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Do you ever wonder what a mom feels when her child is labeled? Maybe your child has been labeled. Or maybe you’ll know someone who could use your compassion and empathy. This is where I begin, sharing from my heart, what those words mean / meant to me.

I wrote this in an essay writing class last month. Our in-class prompt was to end with “what a joke.” I knew exactly what I wanted to write.

Because I am grieving.

First, came denial. (And a lot of weight gain and apathy.)

Many months and months later, just recently, came anger.  Once I let myself feel, I was surprised at the anger. I expected to feel sadness, not anger.

Now, I’m more peaceful. I’m closer to acceptance of my new normal. But, when I wrote this, I had just started to deal with all the “stuff” that happened inside me when my kids were labeled. I wrote it to my old self. I wrote it to my demons.

It’s raw. I hope it won’t bother you too much. It was my truth in that moment.

. . .

Special needs. There I said it. My kid has special needs; well, both my kids do if you want to know the truth. Which I doubt you do.

Now you’ll try to shut me up and say, “Oh, I don’t know how you do it” or some other condescending remark to mean “thank God it’s not me” and look at me like you’re glad your karma got you two “normal” kids.

This label is like cement, pulling me into submersion with my nose barely sticking out of the liquid, gasping for air.



What a joke.

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  1. So glad you shared this — thank you for your courage, you inspire me! Was just talking about this with another parent yesterday, about these and similar challenges, and what we teach our children about labeling, and categorizing, and defining. I laughed when I read a prayer last night that went “Lord, save me from yet another ‘learning experience’.” Sometimes it’s just hard, and it’s important to acknowledge that. Sending many hugs.

  2. Melissa…sigh…your truth speaking allows me to take a deep breath after holding it for a good part of a year.

  3. Great post. I am so with you. Right now I don’t want to be ‘special’. You know I am here for you and I promise not to say “I don’t know how you do it”…cause actually I get how you do, you don’t have a freaking choice.

  4. labels are not meant for human beings. please just love and hug your kids and don’t let others tell them or you who or what they can become. and be happy that they are still here with you!!! i have a friend who recently lost her son (suddenly and unexpectedly)and she has taught me so much through her courage and strength. she’s taught me about letting go of what society tries to put on all of us. each child is here for a purpose. who cares if society can’t see or recognise that purpose. you as their mom can! you can help them become all that they can be! you’ll get through the anger and find the strength to help them. that’s what mommies do. god bless you and just love your children while you have them here with you!!!!