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It is all too easy to fall prey to the trap of focusing on physical, medical, and behavioral needs – the needs that are most urgent and apparent – and lose sight, in the stress of meeting these needs, of what is most important.
Your special needs child has many needs, but the most important need – the quiet need – is her or his need to be loved.  This need, on its own, will never win out over the much louder needs of disability and illness, and you must take deliberate action to ensure that you are not distracted from your primary purpose as a parent – to love your child.

  • Set aside “medical free” time between you and your child, where your interactions with him or her are solely interpersonal, and treatments, monitoring, and other interventions are off limits.  This time should be solely about your relationship with your child.
  • Encourage and support your partner, spouse, well children, extended family, and close trusted friends to develop their own one-on-one time and interactions with your child.  This may be difficult for your special needs child also, if he or she is used to depending solely on you—so extra encouragement for everyone may be in order!
  • When “medical free” times are interrupted or fall apart due to emergencies, mishaps, and other unavoidable circumstances, be clear to your child and to everyone involved that everyone will follow through and make up the time that was interrupted or missed.  It is not necessary to be rigid, use a stopwatch, or any such legalistic thing; the point is to teach everyone involved that this time of interaction and bonding takes ultimate priority.  You won’t be able to control everything that happens – but just as surely as you follow through with the medical, physical, and behavioral caregiving your child may require, you will also follow through with meeting this most important need.




©2017 Jonah & The Whale Foundation, Inc., Mars, PA, USA