2. Like all adopted children, special needs children have something missing. Adoption means that a child couldn't be raised by their biological parents, and that is difficult. There are always questions in their minds about that.
3. We need support, not criticism. As parents of special needs kids, we know our children are going to act out, misbehave, get out of control, and generally be difficult sometimes. Don't judge. Don't give advice. Offer help, support and prayers.
4. It isn't all horrid. Sometimes, people look at us with pity: "How hard it must be for them!" Yeah, ok, sometimes it is hard. But it's also great fun, a great joy, and we laugh a lot.
5. Have a solid, professional support team is a must. Finding the right doctors, counselors, social workers and therapists for your children is a must. If something isn't a good fit, keep looking. You'll know when you find the right people.
6. Mom and Dad need a break. It is essential, as in every marriage, that Mom and Dad gets breaks, but with special needs kids, it is even more important. The parents should encourage each other to take time alone to spend on hobbies or go out with friends, and even more importantly, Mom and Dad need to take time regularly to date. Want to do something really helpful? Offer to watch the kids for a few hours. It will mean the world!
7. The place we need to the most support is our faith community. Our church family has been great at supporting our family, but it is also the place where we've gotten the most criticism. "Suffer the little children to come unto me" doesn't apply only to the well-behaved kids who are stellar students and never cause a ruckus in church or catechism classes.
8. Spiritual support is not an option; prayer is not an option. Trust me on this; both parents and children need to know that God is in charge, even when things seem out of control.
9. Special needs doesn't mean a lifetime of woe. People can assume that a child with special needs will never amount to much, can't contribute to society or will always be a "burden". Nothing could be further from the truth. Every child is different, but every child is made in God's image and likeness and has skills, talents and something to offer.
10. Expect to make mistakes, and learn from them. It's tough raising any kid, but special needs is a whole other ball game. You're not going to get it right every time, and neither are the kids. However, everyone can learn, get better, and move forward.