Special Needs Families Do Not Suffer, Got That?

Boys walking along waves
Making Waves
In the special needs world, we're lucky enough to have some celebrities that use their status to bring attention to awareness for a variety of causes. We're also, unfortunately, lucky enough to have a few froot loops who put a negative spin on disabilities.

While it's great that we have some champions bringing understanding and awareness to special causes, we also have a few folks who use their Google degrees to make waves and create mass hysteria. And if there is one thing kids with disabilities DO NOT NEED, it's people with the WRONG IDEA.


See, having kids with disabilities may not be a picnic, but it isn't that bad, either. Special needs are challenging, to say the least. These kids don't come with instruction manuals. There are many sleepless nights. Discipline is a whole different ballgame. Life can be frustrating and stressful. Raising kids with disabilities is HARD, YO. But isn't it the same with "normal" kids? Aren't parents of typically developing children just as stressed out and overwhelmed, attempting to adjust to their new "normal"?

(What? I'm wrong? It isn't stressful and overwhelming? Well, this is embarrassing. Carry on, as you were. Ahem.)

Seriously, we ALL face challenges as parents. We ALL cry into our coffee mugs once in a while or climb under the covers and wish they could do a day over. We're ALL parents of children who need love, understanding, respect, and support. Parenting a child with disabilities is no different. We don't need pity and we aren't asking you to treat our kids any differently than you'd treat any other child. There's no reason to feel sorry for us or our children. 

The one word that really makes my skin crawl is "suffer." When I'm reading or watching the news and they mention that the child "suffers" from ____? Yeah, that. Makes me insane. I wanna hurl my BAD CALL brick at the television (and I would, if I had one). Our kids aren't "suffering." They don't "suffer" from their disabilities. Sure, it's challenging. Sure, some days suck rocks but my kids DO NOT SUFFER. In fact, they're pretty dang awesome. They are nothing to be afraid of. Well, except for maybe when we're on the way to the ER with, say, a dislocated shoulder or gaping head wound. Not that THAT has happened to us or anything.

I mean, do these kids look like they are suffering to you?

smiling boy child
Happy Hippie Hatzell

That is one super-happy-fun-time-kid right there. We are never bored with him. NEVER a dull moment with that kid, I tells ya.

And how about this one?

boy pouting
Okay, so he's not exactly making my case for me. But he's happy. He's thriving. He smiles (he does, honest). He eats and sleeps and dreams and loves, just like any other child.

Yes, I'm annoyingly optimistic. But these kids will do great things. I've been accused before of thinking we're not suffering because my kids "aren't all that autistic" and don't really have significant disabilities. Let me make this clear: Their disabilities are VERY real. I have a non-verbal kid that is at the very-severe end of the spectrum who also has a variety of chronic medical issues, severe ADHD, and cannot sleep. I have another kid who washes his hands until they bleed and has crippling anxiety. It's pretty darn real, y'all.

But let's be sure you understand:

They do not suffer.

We do not suffer because of them.

Our family is not suffering because of their disabilities.

They are happy and thriving.

They are nothing to be pitied, feared, or disgusted by.

We are better parents because of them.

We are truly happy. Because we choose to be truly happy. We choose to look at the positives in life and choose to dwell on the good. There are no guarantees in life, might as well make the best of the hand you are dealt, no? We celebrate every little, teeny, weeny victory. Life is too short to be miserable and feel sorry for ourselves. My kids deserve better.

They all deserve better.


Images via Marj Hatzell

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