Being the parent of a special needs child, young or older, is hard. All children are a lot of responsibility, especially newborns and toddlers. Individuals with SN continue to need additional support that other neuro-typical children become less and less dependent on as they move into their teenage and adult years. Many will still need help with reading, expressing emotions, understanding social situations they're put in, picking out clothes, reminders to complete personal hygiene tasks, and more. You will have long days and sometimes longer nights. You rarely get any “time off”. But it’s one of the most rewarding things you can be. August is Special-Needs Parents Appreciation Month. It’s time to celebrate these fantastic and compassionate people who are our unsung heroes.
Special-Needs Parents Appreciation Month was founded by Sandra Peoples. It’s a way to recognize and celebrate special-needs parents, who often go without any recognition or support. Sandra is the little sister of Sybie, who has Down syndrome, and the mother of James, who has autism. She recognized that August was a month that special-needs parents were particularly exhausted in, as it’s the end of a long summer. So Sandra decided that August was the ideal month to celebrate these hard working parents and give them some recognition for what they do every day.
In the spring of 2015, Sandra started a Facebook page for Special-Needs Parents Appreciation Day. On the page, you could nominate parents of special-needs kids so that they could get some much deserved recognition. When popularity drew more people to the page, a website was then developed. On the website, you can nominate special-needs parents, with one being recognized each day of August. The website also encourages local churches, communities, newspapers, radio stations, and more to get involved and help to celebrate these individuals.
If you have a friend or family member with a special needs child, one of the nicest things you can do is offer your help. Offer to come to their house and watch their child for an hour or two so that they can take a much-needed nap. Or babysit while the parents get to go on a date night, just the two of them. When you have a special needs child, you are on duty all the time. A break, even for an hour or two, is a great gift.
Even if you don’t personally know anyone who has a special-needs child, you can still show empathy when you see a parent out in public. Anyone who has had a 2 year old knows what it’s like when your child throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the aisle at Target. If you see a parent struggling with a special needs child, don’t stare or make unkind remarks. You don’t know what they have to deal with on a daily basis. Show empathy, and help if you are able to.
A lot of SN parents often feel isolated. One of the best things you can do as the friend of a special-needs parent is to simply offer your friendship. Give them a shoulder to cry on when they have a rough day. Make time to go out to dinner, even if your schedule is completely full. Make sure they know that you are there for them as a friend and that they can count on you when they need it.
The Baddour Center is a residential community for adults with mild and moderate intellectual disabilities, located in Senatobia, MS. We offer respite services for anyone who would meet our criteria for admission. You go through the same process, but your schedule stays throughout the year. This is great for a family who just needs a break or has a surgery, anniversary, or other big event/vacation planned where they need their loved one to have a "vacation" too. It can be any time throughout the year, with various lengths of stay for a predetermined, mutually agreeable period of time. Respite care is also great for anyone considering TBC in the future so that we can start establishing a relationship with their loved one. Schedule a tour of our campus, so you can see the place that your child or loved one might one day call home. We look forward to meeting you!
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