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Confessions of a Special Needs Parent

Confessions of a Special Needs ParentStop Pitying the Special Needs Parent

This blog post has been contributed by Deepa Garwa.

It was a normal day, nothing unusual. Saturday afternoon, a visit to the nearby mall with both the children, where I was checking out the ‘to buy’ list while my son was pestering me to get him another poster of his favourite soccer star and my little monster wanting to lie down on the floor yet again!

Anyway, it was a pretty usual outing for us when I saw an elderly woman in the aisle observing my daughter with a wrinkled nose and pitiful eyes (she had probably never seen anybody with Down syndrome out in the open before). I let out a sigh (didn’t affect me much but still!) and smiled at her, asking Aarshia to wave back. The woman was startled and smiled back awkwardly; vanishing in an instant and we went about our business of picking Aarshia up, running, selecting items and laughing about the whole thing.

This is not a one-off incident. This is a routine affair where my daughter gets noticed like celebrities but minus the awe and plus the pity. Pity for her and more pity for me as a mother. This used to affect me a great deal, but not anymore! Now I look at these women—elderly, just married, expecting, middle aged—and choose to not get affected because I do believe that they don’t know anything more than pity, and mostly they are victims of unawareness, prejudices and social stigmas.

Also Read: Strike up a Conversation with a PWD without Feeling Awkward


I do not believe that people are largely insensitive, I believe they are ignorant and don’t know the right way of responding to a child with special needs. They might believe that such a family is always sad, unhappy and its members look like zombies but that is an absolute fictitious picture! The truth is entirely different. The special needs families may not mingle so much with others, that is largely because of the responsibilities and the needs of the child.

Being a special needs mother, I would like for people to come and talk to me or just say hello instead of feeling awkward in my daughter’s presence. If I could, I would tell all those who feel pity for us that we don’t need it. If given a choice, I would still want her to be my daughter and I am sure every special needs parent feels that way.


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ParentEdge is a bi-monthly magazine for discerning Indian parents who would like to actively contribute to their children’s education, intellectual enrichment and stimulation. The magazine’s premise is that learning is a continuous process, and needs to happen both in and outside of school; thus parents have an important role to play in shaping their children’s interests and intellect.

10 thoughts on “Confessions of a Special Needs Parent

  1. krishna

    Dear Deepa,
    My work involves interacting with parents of children with special needs and you would find me staring at them for a long time too.But I do it in awe and with an eagerness to learn.I feel that as a parent I am not truly selfless,I want my daughter to learn this,behave in a certain way and acknowledge me for my role in bringing her up.You teach me that a child should be cherished for what he is and that parenting is about giving unconditionally.I just want to tell you that many of us watch you to grow as people and be better parents…really.

  2. Shweta Chooramani

    Working with CWSN we frequently come over such prejudices. We train people to have guts and go and talk. Not starting with the questions like, how did it happen to you. I have seen parents telling kids not to look at children with intellectual needs or stay away from them as they might harm. It’s difficult but a simple hello with warm smile goes a long way. Lot of sensitization and common sense is needed. Wishful thinking !

  3. Swati

    Hi Deepa,

    I hate it when people say disabilities! Excuse me they are not disable in fact they are more able or rather differently able kids — precious gifts from the almighty himself bestowed on few who can and will love them without any prejudices. Loved your post and by the way I do smile at the child and try to strike a conversation with the mom simply because I want to just as I like to talk to other moms with kids of my son’s age I love to know their perspective, as it adds depth to my writings. I am a fellow blogger here so please do drop in and leave your feedback here. Thanks enjoyed reading your post!

  4. Deepa Garwa

    Thanks for writing but I am no better a parent than what you are or anybody else is. Just having a special needs child doesn’t make me selfless and I am proud to say that I am not.
    As far as staring is concerned, if you want to learn something about special needs, it will be great if you can reach out to the parents or the mother than doing just the staring because it does puts us parents in a little awkward position.

    thanks again for reading!

  5. Deepa Garwa

    you are right. I, too tell people to reach out, say hello or just smile at people with special needs. the pace may be slower but I am happy that more and more people are getting sensitized and aware about the children with special needs!

  6. Deepa Garwa

    Hi Swati
    Thanks for writing but being a blogger yourself I would like to request you to stop putting people with special needs on a pedestal. When we say that we don’t want our kids to be treated differently, we also mean to not put them above others. All children are God sent and are special gifts, our kids are no different and all that we want from people is to treat them normally, like everybody else.
    thanks a ton for being so sensitive and writing.

  7. SEEMA

    i hd gone through this article it must teach a good lesson to those who are behaving awkward in such situation .i appreciate you that you have immense courage to pen down this real happening .you are optimistic women, a good mother, a good citizen and a good human being ….you know very well how to manage things ,situations and people around you …i wish more and more readers go through this article …and appreciate ur courage and will have respect to this feeling of mother and daughter ………..
    good luck my writer friend

  8. krishna

    Thank you for sharing Deepa.I used to feel that parents would feel hurt discussing their children and what I meant by staring is the “observation” I must do as a pediatrician.I find that apart from therapy that we provide it’s the parent’s giving that goes all the way.


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