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I Am a Special-Needs Parent Raising a Special-Needs Child

My 11-year-old son Sam has anxiety disorder, for which he takes a daily dose of Zoloft. He’s also being treated with Adderall for ADHD. And he was recently diagnosed with autism.

I’m 52 years old and bipolar. I ingest a nightly cocktail of four psychotropic meds.

Because both son and mother have notable disabilities, the going, as they say, can get rough. Thank goodness, Sam’s father and my husband, Pete, has both feet planted firmly on the ground and is without mental illness.

How do I effectively parent my beautiful, brilliant and unusual son while my disability is rearing its ugly head?

I have several strategies I use to get through the average day as Sam’s mommy. They include the willingness to try new approaches, optimism, utilizing and trusting medication, having a marital partner/dad to help us in this endeavor, and maintaining a sense of humor, among other things.

First of all, in the case of being willing to try new approaches to both of our disabilities, we’ve both shopped around for the best people to treat us. If a doctor or a therapist isn’t working for either of us, we move on.

Sam has seen a lot of snake oil salesmen. The worst one was the therapist who wanted to sell us $2,000 worth of special music and a fancy pair of headphones to reprogram his brain. Currently, we’re satisfied with Sam’s doctors, but we had to kiss a lot of losers before we could say this.

The losers are out there. I too have had my share of ineffectual mental health practitioners. I was once seeing a psychologist who, instead of squelching the paranoia that sometimes comes with bipolar illness, fanned the flames. I was a nervous wreck.

But I had the sense to move on. My current psychologist is very good at recognizing paranoia and helping me combat it.

Another strategy I use to get through the day with two major disabilities in the house is to try to be optimistic about all things. Sam has the habit of scripting. He recites movie scripts in their entirety. The constant chattering drives me a little crazy. How do I cope? I’m looking forward to a day when he won’t script anymore. I have to be optimistic, have hope that Sam will grow out of this pesky habit. Am I naïve? (If I am, I don’t care.)

I too have to be optimistic about my disorder. Some days, I’m very depressed. It’s agony to get through a day. I moan, I groan, I pray. I hold onto the fact that this too will pass. Optimism helps me get through what’s going on in my brain. And depression does pass.

Next, a third strategy I use to combat two disabilities in the home is utilizing and trusting in medication. As mentioned above, both Sam and I are medicated. And we’re 100 percent compliant. Sam takes his Zoloft and Adderall every day.

I’ve never missed a day of medication in 21 years. My bipolar is so severe that I don’t dare not take my pills; at its worst, my bipolar illness was riddled with delusions. I can’t go back to life like that. I know what’s good for me. I take my meds.

I Am a Special-Needs Parent Raising a Special-Needs Child

Laura Yeager

Laura Yeager has been writing for over 35 years. Some of her favorite topics include mental health, writing, religion, parenthood, dogs, and her day-to-day life. She is a mental health writer for Her articles about writing have appeared in The Writer Magazine, The Toastmaster Magazine, and Her spiritual writing has been featured in several venues including Aleteia USA, Busted Halo, The Liguorian Magazine, Canticle Magazine and Guideposts Magazine. A graduate of The Writers' Workshop at The University of Iowa, Laura teaches writing at Kent State University and online Creative Writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop in New York.

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APA Reference
Yeager, L. (2018). I Am a Special-Needs Parent Raising a Special-Needs Child. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 25 Dec 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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