No, this post isn't a rant - at least, I hope it isn't. Like most of my posts, it's simply designed to raise awareness. In this case, I'm kicking off a series about the sorts of negative comments that parents of children with special needs face.
Being the parent of one or more special needs children is a difficult and often thankless job. Other parents, get praise, excitement and love from their kids - and so do we - but sometimes our kids don't react quite the way we expect. Sometimes they seem less grateful for expensive gifts, less receptive of our hugs and less expressive of positive feelings for us. It's tough for our kids but it's also tough on us as parents.
Sometimes we feel burned by the whole experience - and we don't need someone else to come along and tell us what we're doing wrong - or how much better their child is than ours.
It's a sad fact that sometimes special needs parents express a sort of "evil glee" when they hear about other people with "problem children". Are we bad people because of that?
I hope not.
It's not that we want bad things to happen to others and it's not that we take pleasure in the news. It's just that we crave understanding - and sometimes the only way to truly understand a situation is to experience it.
I was recently reading a page called the "Top Ten Snappy Answers to Annoying Comments" on autism.about.com and I was thinking... "Yes, sometimes I'd love to give those responses out. I've heard most of those annoying comments myself and it would be so satisfying to snap back. Of course, I never would. I'm too respectful of others (or perhaps I'm just conflict-avoidant or chicken?).
Whatever the reason, the thought still stands. Those "out of experience" comments do a lot more harm than good.
In this series, I want to take a look at some of the damaging support groups out there. Now there's a contradiction in terms. The groups I'm talking about could (and usually do) provide a lot of much needed support but then suddenly and without warning they start doing a lot more damage than good.
As a parent, you need to know how to recognise the signs and you need to know when to quit. Hopefully this series will give you some of the clues.
Next Time: I'll start by looking at babyhood and mother's groups.