Which is Worse — 5 Minutes for Special Needs


I have a podcast I like to listen to.  It’s for working mom’s who are “trying to do it all and then some.”  The mom’s who run the podcast have two children each.  Their kids are about the same age with the oldest being in 2nd or 3rd grade and youngest in kindergarten.  Over the years they have dealt with some issues with their kids.  One mom’s oldest boy has ADHD while the other mom’s oldest was just diagnosed with dyslexia.

Recently the one mom commented that just because someone may have it worse than you, it doesn’t make your troubles any less real to you.  I couldn’t agree more.  Regardless of our children’s challenges, it’s never easy for us.  We love our kids and want the best for our kids.  And yet, when your kid’s challenges are more difficult than someone else’s, it’s sometimes hard to listen to them vent about their troubles.

For instance, the mom who’s son was diagnosed with dyslexia talked about her fears of what was ahead for her son.  She was sad that this was not something that could be cured.  This was something he would have to live with for the rest of his life and he would have to learn ways to work around these challenges.

On one hand I heard her loud and clear and knew exactly how she felt, but on the other hand, I found it somewhat frustrating to listen to her.  Her son is highly intelligent.  The reason it took so long to diagnose him is because he is so smart.  In the grand scheme of things, her son’s challenges were minimal to me.  He could accomplish whatever he chose.  He could look forward to marriage and children.  He’d be able to drive.  He’d live on his own without any need for assistance.  He’ll be able to understand the concept of money.  College is a very likely possibility.  Friendship would not be a concern.  No one would look at him and think, “what’s wrong with him” or be scared to talk to him.

True, my daughter has a bright future, too.  However, although she has street smarts and great problem solving skills, she is intellectually challenged and learning will be difficult for her on many levels, not just reading.  She may get married and most likely will have relationships, and although they will be fulfilling to her and in some ways more sweet and innocent,  they won’t be like ours.  She almost certainly will not have children of her own. It’s possible she could drive, but the odds aren’t in her favor. If she lives on her own, some level of assistance will probably be necessary.  College is possible, but it will be a program accommodated for those with special needs.  She will make friends, but there will still be those people that don’t get it and will dismiss her or be afraid of her.

By that same light however, some of you reading this are probably thinking I don’t have room to complain.  My daughter is healthy.  So far she has not had any of the medical complications that can come with Down syndrome.  We have not endured leukemia.  Her heart is strong.  She is a social butterfly and a superstar at her school.  Most kids want to be her friend.

My point?  I don’t know.  Sometimes it just helps to put what we are thinking down on paper so we can remember that we all have our challenges and we need to be understanding and accepting to others and their troubles regardless if they have it worse or easier than we do.

Email Author    |    Website About Debbie

Over the years I've worn many hats, but the hat of mother is one of my most special. I am not a perfect mother. I make many mistakes, but I have my share of triumphs also. When our youngest daughter came along, she came with a little something extra: Down syndrome. That's when the hat of advocator was added to my hat box. It a hat I try to honor every day and one I like to share with others to let them know they are not alone.

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1 Janet April 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Nicely said. I have a hard time listening to other’s seemingly minor issues/worries/concerns when I am tired. But you know, I also don’t like it when people don’t share because they think their issues don’t stack up to mine.

2 Debbie April 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Janet, I agree, I’m less tolerant when I’m tired, too. I know I’m not being fair when I think that way, but sometimes I can’t stop the thoughts from coming into my head.

3 natalee April 8, 2011 at 12:26 am

Mother’s all understand. Sometimes I feel it would be easier if my children had visible disabilities. They all have invisible disabilities, the ones that aren’t so noticeable to the public eye. ADHD, Sensory integration disorder, Auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, learning disabilities, current memory disorder, and so on. Life has been a challenge explaining to others why they have those behaviors because of what cards they have been dealt. It is a challenge with other children, school, and society in general. Hopefully, with us Moms educating the world through our “special” children. They will see the beauty of having different abilities seen or not seen.

4 Debbie April 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Natalee, I’m often grateful that my daughter does have the physical characteristics that show she has special needs. I think in many ways people are more understanding. I hate when people don’t stop and think a child’s action may be because of a disability and just blame it on the parenting!

5 sarah April 8, 2011 at 8:05 am

Compassion is a wonderful emotion. In the simplest form, don’t judge others until you are in their shoes. We all have issues of some form or another. Sometimes when someone is complaining about a seemingly minor issue compared to a major issue, it is nice to have some empathy. Everyone wants validation of what they are going through.

6 Maggie Mae April 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Brava Debbie. Well said. Though we all go through it, just being able to acknowledge it helps to hear and see others’ struggles and to appreciate our own. Thanks for the reminder.

7 Farmer*sWife April 8, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I can guarantee this concept crosses my mind daily. Not just with children but even with money and family. I love the way you expressed this.

My daughter has had vision issues (two surgeries) and urinary reflux, spastic bladder and all that goes with that (including another surgery). And, currently has been in therapy to re-teach her muscles how to work correctly. But over all, she is absolutely thriving.

Do I still have worries and issues? Yes. Do I count my blessings (both for her and I) and feel empathy and understanding and appreciation of others with both less difficult and more difficult struggles than I? Yes.

Do I recognize that some will struggle more and have much larger hurdles? Completely. For me it keeps me and ‘my’ troubles and issues in check.

It is a difficult to find balance but in the end we all just do the best we can for our children as God gave them to us.

Great post!

8 Jo April 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I think it is about the challenges someone faces whenever we don’t fit into that box called typical.
The child with dyslexia may not do well if the teacher doesn’t understand the issue and he may fall behind, become frustrated and even end up dropping out of school. He needs an advocate to ensure he is understood and his potential recognized and reached.
We deal with invisible issues in my house and it can be isolating and lonely when the outside world doesn’t understand. My boys are doing well thanks to alot of hard work, advocacy and being the annoying Mom that battles the school and medical sytem.
There are no easy answers. I think most of all it is about understanding and empathy..

9 Amanda April 11, 2011 at 6:35 am

I try to think of others’ struggles not as lesser or more, but just as different than mine. I see this a lot in the military spouse community as well. Someone will be sad their husband is gone for a week, a month, whatever. Someone else inevitably always pipes up, “At least he’s not deployed!” It all sucks, just sucks differently.

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