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A pagan perspective on raising children with special needs

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It is never easy to raise a child with special needs. It takes patience, persistence and a complete overhaul of your expectations. It is a constant balance between worry and grief balanced by joy and gratitude. If you are lucky you have a good support system, often through family or church.

Many pagans do not have the built in support of a church unless they are in an area with a large and active pagan community. Some also do not have the support of family if they have broken from generations of religious teaching. Finding some sort of support is necessary because caretakers of children with special needs need to have resources and time to care for themselves as well. Do not feel afraid to ask friends for help. Look up local support groups for parents of special needs kids. In the Santa Cruz area SPIN (Special Parents Information Network) is an invaluable source of support and information.

There are also questions that parents face that do not have easy fall back answers like, “Because it is God's will.” A lot of pagans believe that everything happens for a reason, but that is slight comfort when dealing with meltdowns or set backs, or, worse, siblings asking why their brother or sister is so different from other kids' siblings. One way to approach it is that each soul comes into the family it does because that is the correct fit. One family might be more able to deal with autism spectrum issues while another would implode with those challenges, but could rise to meet the adventure of raising a child with ADHD. Remember the positive aspects of the child and remind their siblings of that. The special needs child would be a completely different person without the challenges they deal with. The things you adore might not be there if the child was born without their difficulties.

Do include your children in your practice as much as you are able. Most children can hold a candle and think positive thoughts or even just have a candle held to their hand. Anyone can benefit from using color, essential oils and herbs to affect mood. Most children can enjoy songs and chants even if they are non-verbal and everyone can benefit from time outside in nature.

The parents of a special needs children, no matter what their beliefs, are not a special breed of super hero. They are simply people trying to raise children they love while rising to meet challenges they had never expected to face.

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