It can be hard to manage the needs of a child with a disability or diagnosis. Regardless of your situation, the condition(s) you’re managing and the support available to you, being a special needs parent is one tough gig.

As a parent to two kids, with a variety of diagnoses, I know what it’s like. I know how isolating it can feel when you’re overwhelmed with information, appointments and obligations. I’ve lain awake at night, consumed by all the things I need to do (and, yet failed to do that day). I’ve felt judged for my kids behaviour and my ‘poor parenting’.

That feeling of loneliness and alienation can be overpowering and it can bring you down. However, it’s important you don’t become weighed down by the challenges. It’s vital you don’t lose your ability to see the positives and seize opportunities for your kids.

Here are some strategies you can use to find the positives and better meet the challenges of special needs parenting.


Make connections

Making connections with fellow special needs parents can help you feel less alone and more supported. Sharing the struggles and the triumphs and connecting with others who understand your situation is a powerful way forward through the challenges.


Prioritise self care

Self care is something that doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. It could be a 5 minute game on your phone twice a day or a hot cuppa while the kids have their screen time. It helps to commit to a small act of self care each day, to stay positive and concentrate on you.


Reclaim yourself

It’s easy for our own identities to be subsumed by our kids’ needs but it’s vital we retain our identity and reclaim ourselves. If there’s a hobby you used to enjoy or a pastime you’ve always wanted to try, look seriously at how you can make it happen. Do it for you.


Ask for help

We can’t do it all. Asking for help can be daunting but it will help reduce stress levels and keep you moving forward, even through the tough times. Be proactive and be precise when asking for help, so you’ll have a better chance of getting a yes for your request.


Write it down

Writing down the good and not so good events can also help. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you identify the positives, even on the worst days. Writing out your worries can take them out of your brain and put them into perspective, helping you focus on other issues.


Believe in Yourself & Your Child

On those tough days, the ones where it seems you can no longer keep going, remember to believe in yourself and in your child. Believe in your ability to do this. Believe in your child’s capacity to do more than anyone expects. Believe in your family. You can do this x



Kirsty Russell is a positive special needs parent, dedicated to helping fellow parents find positivity and empowerment, even in the most difficult of moments. Parenting two kids with additional needs, she knows life is not easy and that some days are overwhelming, but she’s doing what she can to find the positives and help other parents do the same.

Positive Special Needs Parenting is a dedicated website for special needs parents and disability service providers. Kirsty’s goal is to improve understanding between parents, providers and educators, to achieve better outcomes for their kids. Services provided by Positive Special Needs Parenting include training and consulting services to providers and schools; resources and support to parents; and information and awareness to the wider community.

Wife to one man, fur mum to two pugs, parent to three entertaining children and carer to too many to count, Kirsty is always busy, always worrying, always juggling and always wondering what she’s forgotten now…


You may also like to read:

School Holiday Survival Guide for Special Needs Parents

Parental Preparedness When You Have a Disability

School Support Guide