5 Things You can do to Feel Supported as a Special Needs Parent

I had coffee with another mama a couple weeks ago, her daughter is just a little over 2.  She packed lunch for her and we blocked her into a little area where we were sitting.  For almost two hours we sat and chatted and for the most part this little one ate and played.  Close to the end of our time together, she had broken loose and started exploring the coffee shop.  Each time, her mama would catch up to her, scoop her up and she would giggle in pure joy.

This is a drastically different picture than what we have had raising our daughter.  At that age our daughter would never sit still.  She would be so fixated on what she wanted and there was no holding her back.  Removing her from the direction in which she was going would result in hitting, head banging, biting and screaming at that age.  Our parenting has been nothing short of extreme.

It’s been an uphill battle.

It’s been a process and I only made it through the worst years because of my mom.

We’ve lived in crisis for years and part of our success has been in having support.  It hasn’t been easy to find support, it hasn’t been easy to maintain support.  We often feel like we are lacking in support.  I think a big part of that is feeling like we shouldn’t need it.

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First, ask yourself these questions to better understand why you feel unsupported.

Overall, asking myself these three questions helps me redefine the support that I need and then focus on what I can do.  The first question is, “What’s preventing me from feeling supported?”  Often, this starts with me and my needs.   Do you build walls around your family, because of living in survival mode?  Sometimes, in the middle of trying to be so strong for ourselves we forget to ask for help, we want to conquer this on our own, or feel like getting help isn’t worth it.

After I look at what the why is in preventing me from feeling supported, then I can move onto the next two questions, “How can I better support myself?” and “How can I get better support from others?”  Often, the first things I do for myself is to cut down my expectations and revisit better coping skills.  After that I think about who has offered to help and how I could add that into our lifestyle.  I also try to remember that the next person that offers to help I am going to take advantage of that and say “Yes!” right away instead of saying, “If I think of something I will let you know!”

When we are struggling with feeling supported there are a five things we can do:

Start a support group.

Find other mom’s like you that need support.  One of the benefits of starting a group is that it can also help fill your bucket, sometimes giving to others is the best medicine.  You are not only helping yourself but you are helping others too.

Or if this is a little out of your comfort zone join in a new support group.  You might be surprised by how refreshing it is to find others, even if their stories are different who are experiencing similar changes in their family.

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Think about your coping skills

Sometimes thinking about what is going on in your family, pinpointing what is stressing you out and how you can better deal with it personally can help you come up with healthy ideas to cope with the stress in your life.

Sometimes coping and self-care doesn’t feel like it is worth it.  I often neglect myself, only to pay the price later.  Taking a look at what I’ve forgotten to do and reminding myself that it needs to be a priority helps me remember it is vital to surviving under a lot of stress.

Think about why you don’t feel supported.

Maybe life has gotten really hard and you’ve decided it’s easier to stay home than leave.  I know that feeling and we’ve been there!  Maybe instead of going to the next big family event you could invite one family group to meet at a nearby park.

Sometimes, we’ve put up the walls.  We’ve pulled away from family and friends only to focus on the crisis in our homes.  I am at fault for this one, and I often need reminders to reach out to others.  I get so busy trying to manage our home and keep what little peace we can I forget about everything else.

Make peace with other’s not understanding you.

I crave someone who gets what we are going through.  No one except for you, is going to completely understand your situation.  As hard as they might try, sometimes we can not understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  Make peace with this reality and forgive others for their lack of empathy.

The easy way is to get angry and bitter, fight for being at peace with other’s not understanding your everyday life.  As hard as this is, if you have a friend that doesn’t get what crisis in your home is like but will have a play date with you and not judge your parenting, enjoy that friendship. Sometimes we can sabotage relationships because we just want someone to understand what we are going through.

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Simplify.

Sometimes when life gets overwhelming it’s better to let go and keep things simple.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the everyday battles, the repeated struggles and the inability to function.  Sometimes, less is more.  Sometimes, letting go of what’s necessary is the biggest key to survival.  Taking away my own personal pressure we put on ourselves is sometimes the best way we can support ourselves!

It’s really all about balance, managing the daily crisis in our home with some level of support.  It’s often a very fine balance, which I still struggle to maintain.  Hoping this reminds you to weigh the stress in your family life with support from yourself and from others.

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Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and Mommy Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia!

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One thought on “5 Things You can do to Feel Supported as a Special Needs Parent

  1. Full Spectrum Mama

    I needed this.

    TODAY.

    I think when our families don’t look/act/function like other “normal” families it can be very easy to get overwhelmed, isolated…bitter.

    Thanks for these great ideas.

    Full Spectrum Mama

    Reply

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