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with Julie Hanks, MSW, LCSW, BCD

Therapist Blog Challenge #19: Parenting a Special Needs Child


Therapist blog challenge #19 focuses on the experience of parenting a child with special needs.

(Note: This is, of course an incredibly broad topic. Subtopics include welcoming a child with special needs into the family, helping siblings of kids with learning disabilities, helping adults with special needs, etc. Narrow it down as you see fit.)

[Headline] Write a title that gives readers a clear idea of what your post is about. You may use one of the following if you’d like:

How to Begin to Understand Parenting a Special Needs Child

A First Time Parent’s Guide to Nurturing a Special Needs Child

An Emotional Survival Guide for Parents of Children with Special Needs

[Strong Intro] Lay out the topic with a little more detail in an opening paragraph. Below is an example:

Expectant couples eagerly wait to welcome a new little one into their family. But sometimes a soon-to-be mom and dad discover that their child will have special needs, which will significantly affect their experience. Other parents learn of their child’s unique needs later in family life. No matter the age of the child or the kind of disability, first discovering about their child’s physical, emotional, or mental challenges can be a very difficult situation for parents. Here are 4 steps to help them begin to navigate the experience:

[Scanable Content] Break your content into smaller, readable sections with a clear sub-heading.

Let Yourself Feel What You Feel      

Learning that a special needs child will be joining your family can bring a flood of conflicting emotions. Some of these may include confusion, excitement, frustration, gratitude, inadequacy, nervousness, and joy. Acknowledge your full range of emotions without dismissing or judging them. Tune into what you feel, as they can help you gain perspective, clarity, and insight about how to navigate this new experience.


Some parents may feel guilty for being (somewhat) saddened that their child is special needs (particularly if he/she has a severe disability). It’s important to allow yourself to properly grieve your loss of expectations of how your family life might have been different. This doesn’t make you a bad or ungrateful parent; it instead helps you accept the reality and begin a journey toward embracing the challenges and joys of having a special needs child. Take the time to grieve the loss of certain dreams that may no longer be possible or realistic.

Join a Community

There are no shortage of resources from parents who also have special needs children in their home. Take advantage of the countless blogs, professional publications, and meet-up groups that are available to you. Not only can you learn from other parents functional knowledge about such topics as your child’s nutrition, education, and social development, but you can lean on others for emotional support during difficult challenges that you may encounter. You yourself can help provide comfort and support for others as well.

Take One Day at a Time

Beginning the journey of your new life with a special needs child is unlike anything you’ve ever done before. The learning curve is steep, and it’s almost guaranteed that you will experience some worry, doubt, and confusion. Try to be patient with yourself, take things one step at a time, and celebrate the accomplishments and goals both you and your child reach along the way.

[Strong ending paragraph] The final paragraph wraps up your post and can include a summary of important points.

Although learning that your child has special needs can certainly be emotionally difficult, it can also be the beginning of a wonderful family opportunity to grow together and experience joy. This is a lifetime endeavor, and the learning process will never stop. By allowing yourself to grieve and feel a full range of emotions, reaching out to others for help, and taking small steps, you can successfully begin your new life as the parent of a special needs child.

Additional reminders about the Therapist Blog Challenge:

  • Write and post your blog article in the next 2 weeks. If you miss the deadline or you read this article months later, that’s OK too. Post a link for this blog challenge in the comment section of this blog post.
  • Read, comment, and share other therapist’s articles.
  • Tweet your post using hashtag #therapistblog and tag @julie_hanks so I can retweet it.
  • Pin it on the challenge Pinterest Board. I’ve invited everyone who posted a comment on the initial blog challenge post as collaborators so you can pin onto the group board.
  • Spread the word and invite mental health colleagues to join the challenge. Articles can be added anytime throughout the year.
  • Write no more than 600 words, make it easy to read, use a conversational tone, and gear your articles toward your ideal client (not other professionals).
  • The goal of a professional blog is to provide value to your website visitors, help them get to know your professional perspective, increase traffic to your private practice website, and build your practice.

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Remember that this is a lifelong journey…

Therapist Blog Challenge #19: Parenting a Special Needs Child

Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW

Licensed therapist turned business consultant Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW has over 20 years in the mental health field & 12 years in private practice as owner of Hanks consults with therapists all over the world to build a fulfilling and profitable therapy business and attract cash-pay clients through technology and social media. Follow Julie on Twitter & Facebook.


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APA Reference
Hanks, D. (2015). Therapist Blog Challenge #19: Parenting a Special Needs Child. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jun 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jun 2015
Published on All rights reserved.