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On My Mind
May 2008

Raising Children With Special Needs

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(5):401-402. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.5.401

There are things that radically redirect our lives, things that fall outside the script for a normal life, things we never envisioned happening to us or our families. Having a child with special needs is one of them.

We never get the children we might have imagined when we set out to have them, but most of the time we do get children who will go through life pretty much as we have. They will eat, grow, walk, talk, play, go to school, make friends, and learn many of the same things we have learned. Later, they will study, work, fall in love, find partners, have families, and enjoy the things we have enjoyed. Even the difficulties and failures they face along the way will probably be like our own. But occasionally, something unforeseen—or even random—happens at conception, in utero, during birth, or later on and we get a child who is different—a child who will not be able to do what other children do naturally, a child whose life will be different from our own. Our lives are upended, our jobs as parents drastically altered. We are in an unknown place, no longer part of the normal life around us.