I'm referring to the parents of children with severe cases of depression or other mood disorders, ADHD, psychosis, autism, and other emotional and/or cognitive disorders.Previous research has not done enough to educate us about the effects on parents of having a child with SN.Among the research that does exist, it is often diagnosis-specific.For example, Johnston and Mash (2005) concluded that the presence of a child with ADHD results in increased problems with family and marital functioning (hello!To begin, there is no strict or clear definition of what it means for a child to have “special needs.” Many people think of special needs as necessarily involving a serious or chronic medical condition.When it comes to these parents, it is clear that the additional demands on parents of chronically ill children cause stress that affects the whole family (Cousino and colleagues, 2013).I have learned so much more because of my personal—not professional—experience.
Having a special needs (SN) child brings with it many of the typical joys of parenting, but let’s not kid ourselves into believing that there aren’t major drawbacks for the parents.
As a psychologist and parent of a special needs child of my own, I have detected several negative effects which I’ll describe in detail below.
), disrupted parent-child relationships, reduced parenting efficacy, and increased levels of parent stress. According to the National Mental Health Association and the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (1993), parents who are caring for children with mental illness find it extremely difficult to get their own mental health needs met while trying to meet the mental health needs of their child.
My knowledge and understanding of what it's like to parent a SN was previously restricted to textbooks, journal articles, and ultimately working with these parents as their therapist.
But chronic illnesses are not the only type of special needs that children have.
I am focusing on children with special emotional needs, including children who have a psychiatric diagnosis.