Individually, “Special,” “Needs” and “Child” are three easily defined words. Join them together in the term “Special Needs Child” and they suddenly defy a clear definition upon which everyone can agree.
The term “Special Needs Child” is a canopy covering a smorgasbord of diagnoses and situations. A child with special needs could be one with a simple learning disability or a severe mental retardation. It could designate a young person with anything from a food allergy to a terminal illness; a developmental delay that could correct itself or remain for a lifetime; occasional unwanted temper tantrums to deep seated mental health issues that could profoundly effect adult life. Generally speaking, the term designates children not fitting into the mainstream and requiring unique and out of the ordinary services, supervision, therapies, classes, foods, medications, etc.
Special Needs Children require the patience, understanding, sacrifice and time from those who care for them and love them most. This care can tax parents and families beyond their ability to cope and provide.
Meeting these special needs can be costly. Government programs, social security and insurance are available in some situations to assist with expenses. This requires significant documentation and much time.
If you are the parent of a child with any degree of special need make certain you have your child tested, evaluated and diagnosed. Seek help from health care, educational and psychiatric professionals and follow their recommendations. Keep detailed records of all reports, suggestions and expenses.
Most important of all, take care of your own health and emotional wellbeing, and encourage other family members and loved ones to do the same. Caring for special needs children requires maturity and the best of the human spirit. If your own life is not in order it will only exacerbate an already difficult situation, hindering you from giving your child the very best life they can experience.