Attention Parents of Children with Special Needs: You Are Not Alone.

Thursday, January 9th, 2013

A few days ago while doing some routine Internet research, the staff of M&L Special Needs Planning came across this blog post, titled “Can’t take much more of my child with special needs.” Now, there are perhaps some parents out there who would be put off by this; the blunt, ragged honesty of the title may certainly raise some eyebrows. Not us, however. We get it.

The blog, despite the title, is actually an endearingly compassionate, empathetic gesture of support for struggling parents of children with special needs. According to the author, Gillian Marchenko, she wrote the post after “can’t take much more of my child with special needs” showed up as a search term on her blog. Marchenko writes, “When I read it, my heart hurt. But I know that for a lot of parents, this is reality. If I’m honest, when it comes to parenting my two young daughters with Down syndrome, similar thoughts have surfaced in my mind too.”

Once again, we get it. As parents of children with special needs, we all know that raising our children can sometimes be an exhausting, overwhelming, daunting task. One of my favorite statistics related to special needs, taken from the MET Life’s “The Torn Security Blanket: Children with Special Needs and the Planning Gap” Survey, states that 32% of parents spend more than 40 hours per week with their child with special needs, or time equal to a second full-time job. The constant daily struggles with homework and childcare are exhausting; booking and making time for medical appointments, tutoring, and therapies can be incredibly stressful. And, then, in our spare moments, the long term planning issues surrounding children with special needs loom in the background: will my child get a post-secondary education? How will he or she be supported, financially? Where will he or she live? What happens if (when) I die?

All of these concerns, in addition to work and the everyday responsibilities of maintaining a household and raising children, can lead to exhausted and stressed out parents. As Marchenko summarizes, “We get tired. We get weary.”

If you are reading this blog and thinking, “This is me. This is my situation”, then take comfort: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Every parent of a child with special needs is there with you, and we feel confident in saying that every parent of a child with special needs at some point (or many points) feels frustration, questions their abilities as parents, feels alone, depressed, and tired of the daily struggle. Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, we have had moments of feeling like this. Marchenko has. And, that poor soul who searched “can’t take much more of my child with special needs” certainly has. So, what is the solution? We wholeheartedly agree with Marchenko’s assessment: Get Help. Find support. Talk about it. Take a break.

Here in Washington, DC there are many support groups available for parents of children with special needs. From the Washington, D.C. Arc to DC Autism Parents, these groups can offer support to parents of children with specific disabilities, as well as general support groups for parents of children with special needs. They can help you express and work through your emotions, and provide a supportive and healing environment for you and your family with special needs. Most importantly, they can help you to surround yourselves with other parents who are experiencing the same things as you; after all, a burden shared is a burden halved.

To see a listing of some of the support groups in the DC area, please click here. A similar listing in Maryland and Virginia can be found here, and here respectively.

If you and your family with special needs require specific help with some aspect of special needs planning, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are here to help. All of our services are designed to help you ensure the happiness and financial stability of your family with special needs; we offer services related to financial life planning, transitioning, government benefits counseling, housing, post secondary planning, insurance needs analysis, and Special Needs Trust planning, just to name a few. In short, we are here to help you overcome challenges – if you have any questions, or would like more information on how we can help, please read our blog, “Who We Are, What We Do, and How We Can Help You.” You may also wish to check out the Services and Resources pages on our website.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our blog today – we hope that it has helped. Please share with friends and family members who you think may be struggling with parenting children with special needs, and let them know they are not alone. As Gillian so accurately writes,

“If you found this post today because you googled “I can’t take much more of my child with special needs,” I want you to know that I hear you. I validate how you are feeling. And I want to tell you its OK to struggle. I want to also tell you to get help. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Ever.”

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