Friends are an essential support in your difficult journey, so hold them close

5. Try to mix with a wide range of friends : It is easy to withdraw from your friends who have ‘normal’ children as you may find their worries too trivial or you may find it too painful to see how much their children are able to achieve as they romp through the milestones. It is always helpful though to maintain those friendships as well as cultivating new ones as you meet more parents of children with special needs. If you are like me, you will bond very quickly with mums of children with problems similar to your own, as they understand you immediately and you have the most important thing in common. Joshua had surgery last year and both prior to the surgery and during our hospital stay I made some close friends with mums whose children were having, or had had, the same procedure. Due to the power of social media, I have been able to keep in touch with three new friends a year on and I hope that we remain friendly, and can support each other, for years to come. These are useful friendships as we can support one another as well as seeking advice from each other and comparing experiences, even though our children are very different. we have been talking recently, comparing notes on night splints and even sharing photos that I was able to show our Occupational Therapist.
But my advice would also be to not cut off your old friends as they too will want to support you. They may not always realise that the things that they say or are concerned about, will upset you. I have had to walk away from many conversations over the years amongst mums who are concerned that their sons are slow readers – Joshua will never be able to read- ,or that they have a speech impediment – Joshua is non-verbal or they are struggling in their chosen sport – Joshua cannot run about. I find it easier to walk away than to listen and get upset and make them feel bad. I do not want them to have to tread on eggshells around me, but they do not think how their conversation might make me feel.
I did once tackle a stranger in a supermarket; a toddler was chattering away at the checkout, constantly asking questions and her mum shouted at her to shut up as she was so annoying. I saw red and said “do not ever take your daughter’s talking for granted by telling her to shut up, you would miss her voice, if she could not speak!” then I left, in tears. But I have not done that again in the last 11 years.

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