Are My Kids Really “Special Needs”?

School starts for my kiddos in a week for Bubba, two weeks for Smash-N-Break.  (Insert confetti flying, champagne sipping Q – I love them, but I’m so ready for school to be back in session.)champagne pop Since the “meet the teacher” times are a free-for-all and not scheduled individually, I’m writing letters to the teachers to introduce my kids.  It may come off as “that mom”, but honestly – you’re meeting 20+ kids in 2 hours.  I’m just trying to help let you know about my kid.  I’ve kind of been around them awhile.  I may know what makes them tick.

It also made me pause and think.  Bubba has generalized anxiety disorder, and probable ADD/ADHD.  Smash-N-Break has ADHD and SPD, and “warning signs” of dyslexia.  He’s just too young to test.  Littles has SPD.  His pediatrician and occupational therapist agree he has some moderate risk towards autistic traits (that’s the wrong word, but I’m only one cup of coffee into my day, so sue me), but it could just be the SPD.  He’s too young to test for more than that, yet.  Plus, he is functioning pretty well in everyday situations, so it isn’t warranted yet.  Given his genetic history, he is predisposed to ADHD, so we will see later if the traits I’m seeing of that continue.  But, all of that to say, I’m technically a mom of children with special needs.

Technically Yes, But Really?

This made me pause.  When I think special needs, I didn’t picture my kids.  I picture those moms who are so inspiring to me, and those moms who fight so hard for their kids.  I picture kids with cancer or other illnesses, Trisomy disorders, deaf, blind, seizures, autism (anywhere on the spectrum), kids who can’t walk or talk, etc.  My kids?  They aren’t that severe.  The disorders they have aren’t affecting their daily life.  Or is it, and we’ve just grown accustomed to rolling with the punches?  I feel like I’m insulting true special needs moms by saying my kids have special needs.   They’re fight is so much bigger than mine.  They’re daily life is so much different.  Things I take for granted, they celebrate as major accomplishments.  And they are major accomplishments.  I don’t want to take away from that.

Yes, Really Special Needs

But then I thought a little more.  A special need means just that – there is something that the child has that has a special way to handle it.  My kids have things going on inside of them that need a little bit of extra help.  It’s why going out in public is like preparing for war for me.  I never know how good or bad it’s going to be.  I never know how many times I’m going to be looked at as “that mom” who “can’t control her kids” or “is giving into a tantrum” that is really a sensory meltdown.  Hell, I never know if I’m going to have to abandon the grocery cart before buying everything because of the issues the kids have.

Even something as simple as taking the boys to get their haircut exhausted me.  Littles just hated it.  If he would sit in the chair, he would cry the entire time.  MavHaircutHe sat by himself once.  Generally, he would need me to hold him, and then he would be pinching and clawing me like mad until it was over.  The sound and feel of the clippers, plus being in public and around strangers, overwhelmed him.  The last time I took him to an actual place to get his haircut, he tried to bite the stylist.  That was it for me.  It wasn’t worth doing this to him every other month.**  The boys get buzz cuts.  I’ve learned to do it at home.  He’s better for me at home.  As he gets older and better with his SPD, and if he decides he wants something other than a buzz cut, we can try a barber again.  Until then, I’ll do it on our front step.

Bubba has anxiety.  He knows the difference between a watch and a warning in regards to weather.  Thunderstorms scare the ever-loving daylights out of him, to the point he hides.  So, my telling his teacher that he has this issue is telling her that he may need a little bit of extra help to calm down if a thunderstorm or tornado happens while he is at school, and how he calms down best.  It’s letting Smash-N-Break’s teacher know he has these medical diagnoses, and he will be more challenging as a result.  It’s also letting her know that *I* know it, and won’t be upset if she comes to me with other issues, tips, tricks, what-have-you.

The “T” Word

Yes, my children’s special needs are so very easy to overcome compared to others.  But, to those with “typical” (I’ve learned to hate that word) children, a day in my shoes would be overwhelming to them.

A Mom Of A “Typical Child:

  • who listens well and has a normal amount of energy cannot understand the lack of impulse control hyperactivity tornado that is Smash-N-Break.
  • doesn’t have their child fall to the ground, unable to move, because a wasp is outside.
  • doesn’t sit on the floor of Walmart trying different shoes on the wrong feet of a 2 year old because you need to find a pair he will wear, and he won’t wear them on the correct feet.  He likes the pressure of the shoes when they are on the wrong feet.

So, while my battle everyday is so much smaller than so many special needs moms, I do have special needs kids.  And that’s okay.  My saying my kids have special needs doesn’t make them less than, or take away from their special needs.  It doesn’t make me less than.  There is a person behind every diagnosis.  That’s what matters – the person, not the label.


**Don’t worry – I didn’t subject him to years of haircut torture and abuse.  Maybe 6 total before I started doing it.  I don’t have a lot of faith in myself and figured they’d look more like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber.