What Does Love Look Like to a Special Needs Family?

I will write an end of school year post soon, I promise. But that’s not what’s on my heart right now.

What’s on my heart right now is this.


It’s a simple gesture: a birthday party invitation. A gesture that to other families is just a normal part of life  or sometimes even cause for parental exasperation (Ugh, another kid’s birthday party? What I wouldn’t give for a quiet Saturday at home!). But it’s a gesture that’s rare or even extinct in the lives of special families like mine.

And I get why it’s rare, I really do. It’s difficult for kids like mine to engage in meaningful friendships. It can be difficult for them to behave appropriately at public events or in chaotic environments. Inviting them to a party is willingly introducing an extra variable that could mean a lesser chance of birthday party success.

Except, once in a blue moon, a family comes along who puts including risky invitees above the traditional definition of “birthday party success.” A family who sees making everyone feel valued and giving everyone a chance at friendship as more important than making sure the party goes off without a hitch. And to families like mine, taking that risk sounds a lot like “We love you.”

If you have a special needs child, family, or adult in your life, if there was someone special that came to mind as you read this, I encourage you to find a way to say “I love you” to them. It might be a tiny gesture. A card. An invitation to come over for dinner or go out for coffee. Anything. It might feel like a small, everyday gesture to you, but to them it could feel like the first time in a long time that anyone has told them they are loved.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. swuenschel
    Jul 19, 2016 @ 13:17:22

    I have been catching up on your blog posts over lunch today. It’s beautiful to see how much Javan has improved over this year. Thank you for the opportunity to better understand the beauty and challenges of kids with special needs.


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