Kindness for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Amy Noelle Collen
Special needs mom and Blogger
09/30/16  3:58 PM PST
Kindness for Special Needs Parents

Getting a child with special needs out of the house for a simple outing is hard enough for parents. Handling stares and unwelcome comments from strangers in public can make the task unbearable. Here’s how to show kindness for parents of children with special needs.

“You are brilliant.”

It’s been ten years and I still have not forgotten those three words. They were said to me by an elderly gentleman in a restaurant. He had watched me get my infant son, Sam, to sleep by moving his stroller back and forth with my foot, while eating a sandwich at the same time.

It was such a kind and appreciated compliment given all I had been through with Sam. At that young age we had yet to know what delays he might or might not have being born at 1lb 11 oz. Weeks were filled with pediatrician visits,  specialty visits such as pulmonology, gastroenterology, neurology, ophthamology, not to mention weekly occupational and physical therapy appointments. It was an emotionally exhausting time for me  as a first-time mom.  I was also going through postpartum depression and grieving the death of Sam’s twin brother, Noah, who passed away at six days.

A completely unexpected yet so simple act of kindness.

I talk about this today because I read so many posts of parents like me. Parents of special needs kids who have not been as lucky to benefit from the kindness I have received.

Many of these parents have received stares, rude comments, or vicious online criticism because of their child’s behaviors.  When did all of this start happening?  When did we forget the old saying, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say don’t say anything at all?”

And yes, I do get it. I know there are plenty of kids that certainly need tighter boundaries. Kids who misbehave because they get what they want from their parents. I know they are out there. However, those aren’t the parents I see on Facebook fearful to leave the house because the stares and criticisms get to be too much.

No, rather it is the parent trying to get their kid through a meal without a meltdown. It is the parent always sensitive to their child’s needs and soothing them when things become overwhelming. It is the parent who deftly handles the wheelchair, the colostomy bag, the screams, the effort and time that it takes to prepare the child emotionally, gather the equipment involved, all to simply go to the store or  restaurant to get something to eat.

What difference would it make in that parent’s life if you simply acknowledged them? Maybe give them a smile or wink, a kind note or a paid check. Perhaps even saying, “Keep up the good work Mom (or Dad), you got this!”

or perhaps

“You are brilliant.”

For more helpful resources on raising a child with special needs, click here.

To connect with other parents of children with special needs, join The Daily Feed Family Support Network.

Recent GROW


  1. In the 34 years of our child having LGS syndrome (severe uncontrolled mixed seizures with developmental delays), only ONE stranger has helped me in public. ONE!
    My child fell to the floor in a gran mal, this tall man scooped her up and asked where did I want her taken to. I was so shocked someone was helping I didn’t know what to say. Now years later I still think about his kindness especially since the majority of people are horrible…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *