I recently read one of the best pieces I’ve seen written by a parent of a special needs child. Everyone should read this post by Marianne at The Life Unexpected titled, “Dear School Personnel, Community Members and Neighbors.”
Being the parent of a child with learning disabilities can be a lonely existence. You never really understand what it’s like for the kids unless you have a learning disability yourself or have a child that struggles. Because most of the focus and effort of overcoming these challenges is directed at helping the child, there is usually little time or empathy for understanding how it impacts the parents.
Just as special needs children must work harder and longer to complete schoolwork, so must their parents. The same socialization struggles that affect the children are also felt by the parents. And in the same way that children in school form cliques that separate tribes, so do parents.
Parents that don’t understand what it’s like can’t be blamed, because how would they know? Programs to help the children are confined only to those with the need. Parents without LD children don’t attend support groups or do research on the internet to find out why their child acts differently.
But I think we can change this. We can let other parents and schools know what it’s like. It won’t take much time but it might do a world of good. Letting other parents (teachers and schools) know that we exist and how we feel and what our life is like could make them understand that we aren’t really that much different. We just need a little more time, and a little more effort to get things done. A little compassion always helps too.
My proposal is to print out Marianne’s post and read it at a PTA meeting. Or if you prefer, put it in your own words – from your own perspective. Either way, it will educate other parents about the sacrifices that are made by some families at school. It will let them know why we don’t always attend all the meetings. And why it’s important to show a little understanding for some kids at social situations.
A little education is needed for parents just as it is for children. We can’t expect them to know unless we tell them.