Helping Special Needs Families During a Pandemic

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Parents win the award for handling social isolation like freaking rockstars. Whether you’re a Pinterest mama or just keeping your kids from killing themselves, you are flipping fantastic.

But today I ask you to take a moment to collectively give a gold star to all the parents with special needs kiddos! I’d love to encourage you to join me in checking on and pampering your friends who have a special needs kiddo because they have a TON on their plate!

My oldest son, who is 11, has been in a wheelchair since he was 2. He relies on my husband and me for everything. My younger son, 8, has severe breathing and lung issues. To say we have a lot going on in non-pandemic times is an understatement. But with social isolation, our lives and workload have increased drastically.

 

a dad and his two sons, one of whom has special needs and is in a wheelchair

 

We usually rely on a strong web of support from therapists, teachers, aides, nurses, and home helpers, to name a few. We are certainly not accustomed to juggling all these balls on our own.

 

Everyone’s journey is different; here are just a few of the extra tasks this mama has been juggling during social isolation.

  • Zoom therapy – Can I take a minute to unpack this? Printing all the activities sent by occupational, physical, and speech therapists could be a full-time job! Then you have to wrangle the kids into doing these activities while simultaneously experiencing “the zoom phenomenon,” which is some craziness where kids go insane when they see people besides their family and themselves on the computer screen.
  • Special Education E-learning – like regular e-learning but even more ridiculous and tear-inducing.
  • Lots of extra work – diapering, lifting, laundry. These tasks are typical parenting tasks, but I seem to be doing them non-stop.
  • Emotional weight – The emotional weight of having a child with special needs isn’t discussed enough, in my opinion. It is like mom guilt, with a dash of medical stress, combined with worrying about your child’s safety fatigue.

School and summer camp typically offer a few moments when I can collect myself and think about something other than the tasks listed above, we all need that downtime, am I right? With all that off of the table, fatigue and burnout are a real concern.

And for most of us, this journey is just beginning. With all the uncertainty, many of us will be practicing extreme social distancing and continuing e-learning in some form for quite some time.

What I hope you will take from everything above is a new perspective on empathizing with these special needs mamas. We rarely ask for help, but we always love connecting with friends and loved ones.

 

So here are a few ways to let your friend know that you are there for them!

cupcakes with white icing on a cloth next to a white candle

  • Drop off treats! Cupcakes, cake pops, tacos (Mission Taco, I’m looking at you!), or margaritas!
  • Download the Marco Polo app. This app is perfect because you can leave little video messages the recipient can watch at any time. That way they know you are thinking of them, but they don’t have to drop what they are doing to answer a phone call.
  • Keep doing your zoom happy hours, we aren’t going to be super comfortable going out to a restaurant for a while, and asking someone to come into our home to take care of our child is probably not gonna happen!
  • Send a care package. Think bath bombs and face masks. Puzzles and card games. Movies and popcorn.
  • Offer to babysit virtually. What this entails varies wildly based on your situation, but for me, this looks like my family or friends talking to my kids on FaceTime or playing games on Facebook Messenger while I take a bath or have some quiet “me time” with my crafts!

 

So keep rocking it, my friends. Whether you are a special needs mamma or not, you deserve a big old party for all the hard work you are doing right now. I hope you’ll take a little time to appreciate yourself and send some love to someone else who is surviving social distancing in any way possible. Just know I am sending you a virtual hug and a huge high five!

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