Sorry About That. My Child Really Is Special.

Last Updated on March 11, 2024

Have I ever mentioned that I am a speech-language pathologist? Before I got married, I worked with preschoolers with special needs. I had ideas about discipline: Keep the mental age in mind. Structure, repetition, and consistency are a must. Use different types of cues—visual, tactile, verbal.

I still think these are the core to good discipline. Clear, concrete and repetitive learning helps my severely autistic child navigate her world. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some days I’m tired. Other days I’m at my wits’ end.

I’m not alone either. My autism support group often discusses this issue. We feel judged in public because our children do inappropriate things. Just yesterday my daughter sat on a little boy at a water park. She didn’t even acknowledge him. While she cried and chirped in her robot-speak, I had to drag her through the giant wave pool. I felt like a lumbering elephant lugging a sack of protesting and squirming rocks. People were staring at me. I’m sure some of them wondered what was wrong with my daughter. Was it my parenting? Did she just need a good swat? Was I one of “those” parents who spoils their children?

I know most of you have your own story of embarrassment or public shame. Some people are bold enough to ask questions; some want to help. Some say derogatory things. I used to explain that my daughter was autistic, and then I’d explain why she was stripping naked and rolling around on the floor. But some days I’m too tired. And I wonder if I even should? I don’t know.

This is even more poignant for those of you who might not have “neuro-typical” children, if you will allow the phrase. When I have both my girls with me, people can see that one of my children is behaving appropriately and is not out of control. So I am not accused of being a “bad” parent, as some of my friends have been.

What’s the solution? I wish there was a clear-cut answer. Pray for wisdom daily. That’s where I get my strength. As for what other people think—should I worry about it? My guess is that most people just want to understand. And the ones who don’t? Pray for them too. Someday they may understand all too well what you are going through.

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  1. grandmagina says:

    "Special" Child – reminds me of a verse I once heard
    Heavens Child
    A meeting was held quite far from earth
    "It's time again for another birth,"
    said the angels to the Lord above
    This "special" child will need much love.
    He may not walk or laugh or play
    His thoughts may seem quite far away
    In many ways he won't adapt
    And he'll be known as handicapped.
    So let's be careful where he's sent
    We want his life to be content
    Please Lord help us find the parents who
    will do a "special" job for you.
    They may not realize right away
    The leading role their asked to play
    But with this child sent from above
    Comes stronger faith and richer love
    And soon they'll know the privilege given
    In caring for this gift from heaven
    Their precious charge so meek and mild
    Is Heaven's Very Special Child.

  2. grandmagina says:

    P.S. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real! God bless

  3. It is hard to read about your child's trials with their special needs child. I view parents of these children so much different since having a personal knowledge of the trials that come with having a very cute special child in our family.

  4. Tammy Kuykendall says:

    Thanks Jennifer for your post called "Sorry about that, my child really is 'special'." I have a three year old boy and two year old girl. My son is on a year long waiting list to get tested for autism. I'm also a Pastor's wife, so I (and my parenting) live in the public eye for everyone to critique. Your post made me give a sigh of relief. There are other mom's out there that feel the same way I do. Thank you thank you thank you for writing it! God bless….

  5. Jennifer Dyer says:

    My heart goes out to you. I wish more people could understand the strain and stress of a special needs mom, but then again, I don't wish that on more people, you know?
    Do you have a support group? That has been a lifeline for me. I'll pray you can find one (or maybe start one) soon.