How often do you hear this story?
It starts with parents noticing that their child isn’t learning to speak or walk as other children. The child is starting to show strange tics in behaviour and communication. They finally go see a professional for a diagnosis and then they are told that their child has some form of brain disorder.
This same story then goes to show much this family struggles, mothers and fathers weep over the plight of their special needs children. Everything is now an absolute struggle for them. And at the end, they also end up being diagnosed with parental depression.
Such stories are usually meant to focus on the children and increase awareness about neurodiversity. However, it is also equally important to understand the impact it has on the parents. They are just as affected after all, even if they don’t have the same disorders.
In fact, the connection between problems like maternal depression and childhood development is well-documented. It is even more startling when you know that a lot of the symptoms for such types of depression are often ignored.
The worst part is that parents often think their downplaying and self-denying behaviour is justified by the difficult situation faced by their special needs children. Alas, the end result is that these parents spend the rest of the child-rearing years marred by drama, emotional breakdowns and high amounts of stress that are not even entirely because of the child.
Remember, having difficulty with one’s emotional state is not necessarily a problem only for special needs children. It is a challenge that everyone faces at some point in their life or another. Parental depression is an undeniable reality in special needs families, and it will be much healthier if mothers and fathers acknowledge it if they truly wish to give their best for their kids.
If you are a parent and have undoubtedly experienced the emotional turmoil of being told your child has been diagnosed with autism or some other form of developmental delay, then know that you have the right to seek help managing your feelings.