Periodically, articles come out offering suggestions to people on how to best support friends (or strangers, for that matter) who have children with special needs . . . what’s helpful . . . what’s not. . . . that sort of thing.
There should be such articles. Most people want to be genuinely respectful and truly helpful to us. They need to know how to do that from our point of view . . . though it should be acknowledged that one parent’s sensibilities about this may be quite different from another’s.
Blogger Leigh Merryday’s recent online article speaks specifically to how her existing friendships were affected by her son’s diagnosis of Autism.
“One of the things I wouldn’t have expected it to affect was my friendships. But it did. Some of the people I expected to be there weren’t. And some people I never expected to be there were. Often, I have noticed a hesitation or awkwardness on the part of friends who just don’t know what to say or do. I know they care. And I know they mean well. They are, quite simply, at a loss.”
She goes on to offer 7 Tips for Being a Friend to a Special Needs Parent. All 7 are excellent … spot on. The first 5 are practical and truly instructive. Then, speaking tenderly to existing friends who’ve been “thrown” by this new development in a friend’s life, she offers Tip #6:
“Know that we will never again be the same person you first befriended. Our interests, moods, and opinions very likely have changed. We are still ourselves, yet we are different. Love us anyway.”
The poignancy of her final thought may just make this your favorite of all such lists:
“Never say, ‘I’m sorry’. We are not ashamed of or disappointed in our children. We love them. And they are a source of joy for us. ‘I’m sorry’ implies something bad has happened. But we do not regret their lives. Neither should you.”
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