From the Trenches: My Experience As A Special Needs Mom

Like all moms, I loved my daughter and did my best to make sure she learned everything she needed to know. Despite my best efforts, it distressed me to realize around 18 months that she wasn’t meeting her developmental milestones. Fortunately, I just so happened to be studying special education in my work towards my bachelor’s degree at the same time, and I began to take my coursework more personally in an effort to understand how to best help my daughter.

Today, at 5 years old, my daughter still receives special education services, and over the past several years I have been thrust into the role of being a special needs mom.

From the Trenches: My Life As a Special Needs MomMy journey as a special needs mom has been an emotional one to say the least.

I felt like I failure as a mom when I had multiple experts telling me that my daughter had deficits in her cognitive, social, communicative, and fine motor development. Was there something I wasn’t teaching her? What did I do wrong?

I poured myself into my textbooks, attended multiple conferences, went to seminars, and spoke at length with my professors. But, at the end of the day, my daughter still had her delays. I humbly submitted an application to my local early childhood intervention program, and my daughter started receiving therapies multiple times a week.

Special needs moms have to place a lot of trust in the experts who work with their children. I shudder to think where we would be without the speech therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, and paraprofessionals who have worked with my daughter. The gift that these people give us is precious, and I try and take special care of my relationships with these professionals. I definitely feel like “that” mom- the one who is in constant contact with my daughter’s teachers and therapists, filling their email inboxes and pulling them aside at the end of the day to talk to them more often than not. Luckily we are in such a supportive community, and I love how invested my daughter’s teachers are in her journey.

My daughter’s delays and struggles are only one part of her life.

She is also kind, goofy, smart, witty, and loving. As the first grandchild on both sides of her family she has truly brought such joy to all of us. I am in awe of the progress she has made and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for her. I know she will face challenges along the way, but I also know that she is resilient and won’t face them alone.

Being a special needs mom is something I didn’t ask for, but now that I’ve been on this journey for several years I can say I’m ultimately thankful for the lessons I have been taught.

To my fellow special needs moms: Have faith, because you are not alone. We are all doing the best job that we can to meet our child’s needs and they’re better off because of us. Between all of the appointments, meetings, therapies, and day to day life, they have you. 

And that is a precious thing.


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Samantha is a stay-at-home mom to Lily and Isaac. She is originally from San Antonio, Texas but moved to Iowa when she started attending the University of Northern Iowa. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and Special Education, and loves the opportunity to mentor other parents in the special needs community. She enjoys knitting, reading, and baking in her free time.