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5 Ways to Help A Parent With a Child With Special Needs

14 Oct 2014 – 11:29 PM EDT

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Your friend has a child with special needs. You want to help but you aren’t quite sure how. You don’t want your help to be misunderstood as pity. Here are five ways to help a friend and learn a little something, too.

Commiserate but Don’t Compare

It’s human nature to do both but the reality is, you know little about the ins and outs of living with a child with special needs. Your friend knows little about life without. So, instead of comparing worlds that don’t compare at all, try commiserating instead. Don’t get me wrong; there will be times to share the joy, too, but sometimes a good old session of feeling compassion and sympathy for each other can go a long way. Maybe you don’t know the first thing about feeding tubes and speech therapy, but you can vent about work for hours. This might surprise you, but it can be really nice to hear that not everyone has life figured out.

Do Some Reading

I’m not asking you to find a peer reviewed study on the little one’s particular condition, although it would be nice. I am simply asking that you spend some time checking out some parenting blogs or websites dedicated to the topic. There are countless parents who’ve paved the way before us and their insight and information is priceless. You might even have a laugh or shed a tear while you do your research.

Ask Questions

Ask the questions that you think you shouldn’t ask. It may seem odd at first, but those very things that cross your mind are crossing the minds of everyone else your friend runs into. If a trusted friend like you asks the tough stuff it will allow your friend to prepare her answers for others. Furthermore, asking questions shows you are interested in learning more.

Spend a Day in Their Shoes: Babysit

Finding a babysitter is already difficult and extremely expensive when your child has different needs. Your friend may decide to stay in more often than not because of the hassle and the expense. Grandparents are ideal but even they need a break now and then. You’ve known the family long enough to know the routine like the back of your hand. Offer a night out on the town for your tired pal and who knows, you might even learn something and have a great time yourself.

Teach Others

When you hear misinformation or worse, hurtful information, take the chance to correct it. Your friend is advocating daily but there are times when a vacation from teaching the world to understand her child is a welcome reprieve. If she knows you’ve got her back she may feel less guilty when she takes a break once in a while.

You’ve done a little research now and you are ready to help. If any of these ideas sound good then feel free to get to it because there is no time like the present. If you have ideas of your own, please share them in the comments section below.