I was flicking through posts on an online community for parents of special children the other day, and came across a blog with this title. 

Expecting a bit of a giggle, I opened it to find that the ‘perks’ were “Joy” and “Unconditional Love” etc.   Blegh.  True perhaps, but tragically unfunny – and not perks!  

These are things you can get from any child in my experience.  All of mine give me joy and love, I know that much. (In all seriousness, it was a nice article – you should read it. I’m being facetious.)

The Cambridge dictionary online says that a ‘perk’ is an “advantage or an extra thing”.  You know, like free drinks at a wedding or a day off work because the G20 Summit is in town (thanks, Brisbane!). 

So here they are – my own 5 Perks of Parenting a Special Needs Child:

  1. A Disabled Parking Permit
    These things are worth their weight in gold!  More, actually, because they don’t weigh much. 

    We don’t worry about getting places early so we can ‘get a good park’ any more – there’s usually some reserved spaces near the front door so we’re almost always in luck there!
     
  2. Everyone Thinks You’re Awesome – Even When You’re Not
    This one was actually pointed out to me by a friend (slightly bitterly, actually – haha!). 

    If you manage to keep your family fed, watered and functional when it includes a special needs child, you’re automatically brilliant.

    Yes I am actually, but it’s nice to hear it said, and even on my bad days there’s usually someone who’ll tell me what a “great job” I’m doing. 

    Unlike general parenthood, which almost everyone has an opinion about, nobody wants to criticise this role - probably ‘cause nobody wants it!
  3. The Sympathy Shield
    I went to lunch with someone who I thought was going to give me a dressing down (also known as a bollocking – am I allowed to say that here?) the other day, so I took Charlie with me for protection. 

    She had a lovely time and, thanks to her presence, so did we! 
     
  4. The Perfect Excuse for Anything
    Most parents will be familiar with this one. 

    We all had the chance to use it when our babies were tiny. 

    Newborn needs brook no arguments, and a simple ‘doctor appointment’ or ‘baby is sleeping’ excuse was never challenged. 

    Here’s the secret part: with a special needs child, that perk goes on indefinitely! 

    No-one ever argues with therapy appointments or illnesses when I say they’re related to Charlie.
     
  5. Special Treatment Options at Theme Parks
    Did you know that most theme parks will issue ‘priority passes’ to the family of a disabled child so that long lines and screaming tantrums aren’t the only memories you take home with you?

    Neither did I, but apparently they do.

    This is one family that will definitely visit Guest Services next time we go to a theme park with Charlie Bear in tow.

    ​Before you all gang up to kneecap me in the carpark, though, I’d like to point out that none of these ‘perks’ were about Charlie’s condition. That totally sucks and there’s not much nice to say about it, nor will I poke fun at it. These were all about me trying to have a laugh at my own expense. I hope I’ve written enough touchy-feely blogs to attest to my love and respect for Charlie and for parents and children like us everywhere, but I’m equally sure that I don’t want to be all ‘sad-sacky’ and serious all the time. A slightly offbeat sense of humour comes with the territory. smile

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