Mother’s Day is a good time to do a shout-out to all the moms of children who have special needs. Parenting can be difficult, and it can also be rewarding. It has been said that parents of kids who have special needs have a more extreme version of parenting. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!
Let’s face it: moms do a lot! This is not to say that dads don’t contribute, because they do. Often, though it is the mothers who take on the biggest part of parenting. A study found that parents of children who have autism face an economic hardship that other families do not face. This is due to the high cost of health care and treatment for autism.
The same study found that mothers of children who have autism are much more likely to be unemployed, or underemployed, when compared with moms who do not have any children that have a special need. Fathers of kids who have autism are able to keep working to support their family, while the mothers sacrifice their career to care for their child. Being a full time caregiver is not an easy job.
Newsweek has an article that discusses an upcoming crisis. Government funding for helping families who have kids with special needs is shrinking, and the special-needs population is growing.
The article features Hilary Toucey, who is a single mom of three children. Two of her kids have special needs. Her seven year old son has cerebral palsy, celiac disease, epilepsy, asthma, and “pretty severe” autism. Her eleven year old son has Asperger’s Syndrome. Hilary spends most of her time focusing on her two sons, while fearing that her nine year old daughter, who has no special needs, will “fall through the cracks”.
Hilary is on a list to get a state personal care attendant (PCA) for her seven year old, but, has no way of knowing when or if she will get one. The severe needs of her sons mean that Hilary cannot simply hire a babysitter for a few hours so she can study for her college classes.
Barb O’Riley is the mother of Bryan, a thirty year old who has special needs. He was diagnosed with “failure to thrive”, and she says he has a rare condition that she describes as “deletion of the first chromosome”. The condition affects him both physically and mentally.
Typically, parents help their children grow up to be independent, functional, adults. Mothers of kids who have special needs come to realize that their children might not ever reach that stage of life. Their parenting days don’t end, even when their child chronologically becomes an adult.
Here’s to all the moms out there who are parenting children who require extra care. Your job may be tougher, in many ways, that what you might have been expecting. It can also be incredibly rewarding. Your hard work is appreciated!
Image by Ms. Phoenix on Flickr