Raising a child with special needs can bring on some of the most difficult challenges a parent can possibly face. Sleepless nights, high divorce rates, and overwhelming emotions are just a few of the common struggles that thousands of parents face when raising their child(ren) with special needs. It would be a challenge to describe all that parents of kids with special needs go through, fortunately, I learned some valuable insights from my parents who take care of my sister Jessica who has severe mental and physical disabilities.
Parents of children with special needs need lots of support. Because my sister’s needs were so significant, we moved from Los Angeles to San Jose, California so that we’d be closer to extended family for support. At an early age, my siblings (two brothers) and I learned how to pitch in to help care for Jessica and take on more responsibility for ourselves than most kids our age. As an integral part of the family, Jessica came with us wherever we went, even when it was inconvenient. The BACC has a support group for parents with children with special needs. This provides help with resources, relationships that understand the challenges, groups of parents that meet together to encourage and help each other.
Special needs children need an advocate, often it is a parent. Advocating for their education, health care, recourses and building relationships with peers to name a few, are all daily challenges facing the parent of a special needs child. While adjusting to the physical and practical challenges of raising kids with special needs, parents are confronted with emotions that come from the uncertainty concerning their children’s future. One of the biggest concerns regarding Jessica is how she will be taken care of once my parents are too old to meet her many needs. This raises financial and relationship questions for these parents.
The inability to participate in activities others take for granted. A simple act of going to church is often denied to parents of children with special needs. Most churches are not equipped nor familiar with the unique needs of the special needs community. The Spiritual Resource Ministry (SRM) was started by the Bay Area Christian Church (BACC) to provide a place for children with special needs to learn about God in an inclusive environment while their parents attend the regular Sunday service. SRM provides trained and experienced workers and peer helpers who understand the needs of the special needs community. SRM allows parents to enjoy church service with the peace of mind that their children are being taken care of by caring and experienced people. For over 15 years, the BACC has been providing cutting-edge programs to provide support and relief for families with special needs.
I am very grateful to be a part of a church that is so compassionate towards families like my own. With all the unique obstacles that families with special needs must overcome, it is rare to find a place that is so ready and willing to care as much as the BACC does. This kind of inclusion, compassion, and hope for parents of children with special needs could only come from a church that is made up of people who reflect God’s love in their lives.
Chances are, you either know somebody with special needs or someone in a family with special needs. According to UPI, more than one-fifth of U.S. households with children have at least one child with special needs.