Special Needs Parents: 10 Ways To Live A Happier Life


Bringing up children is not for faint hearted? Being responsible for someone’s life, health, habits, educations, life skills, social skills, manners and pretty much everything else doesn’t come easy. And when that someone happens to have special needs, emotions can run high and time can come to a standstill. Most of us feel overwhelmed from time to time and a few of us all the time. We also feel like we are never giving or doing enough! I often feel if us mothers are designed to feel bad about the things we don’t do than feel good about the things we do.But is it true for everyone? Do all the mothers feel the same emotions for their children with special needs, or we too have a spectrum where a few of us need more emotional support than our counterparts elsewhere? For some of us, motherhood might seem like pushing a boulder up to a steep hill while every new medical issue, school issue and additional diagnosis keep pushing us down. And though it might seem easier to preach to keep your cool, things can get demanding for any parent, especially when life keeps throwing surprises in form of a unknown challenge after every few months. But then what can be or should be done to stay positive and not let a new development ruin the balance of the family coz for sure there are other people in the family, including you, who too needs looking after

1. Throw away that guilt out of the window


The guilt can be good only and only if it is alerting you when you’ve gone off course or ignored inside voices about doing something wrong, but in no way it is supposed to make one feel bad about parenting and choices that you are making or not making. Perfect parenting is a mirage. Nobody is or can be perfect. Parenting has been and can be done in a million ways, and no one is best or worst. The problem with motherhood is that most of us can feel guilt over many things, especially the ones which are entirely out of our control. We would think, ponder, kick ourselves and feel bad incessantly over things which we did with the best intentions in that situation, solution? Stand by your choices and stop ‘paralysis by analysis’ approach. Say to yourself that you are doing the best you can in the current circumstances and then let it go!

2. Hold on to yourself:

 No matter how many times you tell yourself otherwise, but you are more than a mother and a wife. Being a special needs’ parent is a part of your life, not the whole of it. Always hold on to who you are and were; and never let go of the things that make you happy and authentic. You are one of a kind and let this thought stay in your mind forever. Do what makes you, you! If you loved watching sappy serials and cry, do so once in a while. Go shopping, hire a baby sitter, talk to yorself, If there is anything in this world that makes you happy, Do it or try to do it! Hold on tight, don’t lose yourself!

3. Have positive people/ friends around you:


This might sound difficult but once you are determined to throw away the negativity from your life, you’d know the way to do it too. I have a strong support of friends, and many of them are fellow mothers who I can call about any random concern, and I know they would just pick up the phone and would share my concern for what may seem irrelevant to many others. Most of my meaningful friendships have happened in my adult life, and if you find someone who gets you and pushes you for good, don’t let that someone goes out of your life and soon enough you’d have an army of positive people who’d help you, protect you and get you.

4. Don’t COMPARE!


This is ‘THE’ parenting advice which should be turned into some kind of shots which parents should take every week or month based on their need to compare. We all know every child is different, and that includes the children with special needs too. Just because our children have the same diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean your son will have to do everything that my daughter was doing at his age and vice versa. Not everything and everyone is comparable! Every child is unique, and we need to let them be! This also takes care of a lot of negativity that can arise in parents for comparing their children with others.

5. Learn to keep things in perspective.

We lose most of the battles with ourselves when we lose the perspectives. Fretting over therapies, losing sleep over toilet training and depressing over academics can be dealt in a better way only if moms can learn to keep things in perspective. Think about 10 years down the line when these issues would not even exist, and you’d hate yourself for losing your health over them, which was transitory. Keeping eyes on the bigger picture while appreciating the small achievements can help us in staying positive in our journey.

6. Get out of the ‘zone’:


In our quest to find out the best solutions, best therapies and therapists for our children we sometimes forget about their sibling and the only spouse we have. Spending time with your ‘typical’ kid can be rejuvenating for you and conducive for his learning. They too need your attention, and it is only good for everyone in the family to get out of the ‘special parent’ zone and let the therapies be. By missing out a few, you’d not make some massive damage but choosing to redirect your energies by spending time with your husband and doing mundane things can help you immensely.

7. Read/ write a blog / paint/ cook/ knit/ exercise/ meditate/ learn a language … do something:


Yes, the idea of taking out time from the doctor’s appointment and therapy sessions might seem crazy enough, but unless you find out those precious few minutes to connect with your core and your inner self, things might even get harder. Try to recall the things that used to make you the happiest and start doing them again. It doesn’t mean you have to do it professionally, though that will be great, but get engaged in something, which is bigger than you. Which makes you immerse in something worthy, something that can be created, learned, shared and something that can make you feel happy. Any learning is good learning as long as you are doing it consistently.

8. Keep reminding yourself to celebrate progress:

We ‘parents of children with special needs’ already understand this quote in its true sense. We do celebrate the progress and the little things like no one else but still sometime when the negativity is flying high, and the days are more demanding than usual we might skip those precious moments under the guise of tension and worry. And it is important for us to keep reminding ourselves about the journey we are on. The fact that we are running a marathon, and not a sprint race needs to be brought to our attention every now and then, especially when the road gets a little rough. .


9. Make friends with other special needs’ parents:


Not just for the sake of it but for those ‘actual’ concerns and meaningful conversations. The elderly parents can be great mentors and can give you practical life lessons and advice on what works in real world and where you shouldn’t waste your time. And the parents who have kids your children’s age can help you in more ways than you can ever imagine. From play dates to panic calls, sharing the information of the best ophthalmologist to that sensitive dentist, from discussing your IEPs to designing the next set of goals; other parents can be real acquaintances on this very long journey. I’ve seen great genuine friendships arising out of shared concerns and common goals. And with the advent of the Internet, it can go beyond boundaries too. So next time that cloud of grief comes over you, you know who to call?

10. NEVER lose your sense of humour:


This will keep you alive. This will keep your family sane and your relationships healthy. Laugh at things, situations, films, at yourself and try to keep that over-sensitive and super vulnerable behavior away. Going through a difficult phase can bring out a lot of negative emotions, and one can easily get trapped into the self-pity or grouchy behavior which might cost you many relationships. The solution? Try to give a funny twist to things, laugh when you can and give your family the reasons to laugh with you. It is the best medicine, and it brings much-needed positivity and great vibes around the house. Do it if you are not already doing this.

All The Best!




  1. The birth of Divya with downsyndrome ,transformed our lives.It threw open an amazing magic door of opportunities of goodness .
    she gave us a purpose,meaning,resolve and an education on being worthy to live.she inspired us to learn ,accept and move on as we started the divya downs development trust a centre exclusively for the downsyndrome ,to share our experiences and knowledge that divya gave us ,with other children and parents. this centre is runing in bengaluru since past 11 years and this also gave birth to the downsyndrome association of karnataka .
    we have been offering early intervention,speech and physiotherapy,vocational skills,and counseling -psychotherapy for the parents,which is the topmost priority ,as only parents resolve and commitment can help the child. best regards esther and robin DDDT