Raising a child with a disability, while managing family and work responsibilities is no easy task for even the most dedicated parent. Taking care of all facets of a special needs child daily living –

including school activities, therapy sessions, medical appointments

and personal needs – can be extremely demanding.


“Autism Awareness Month is a wonderful time for family and friends

to express their support for the parents of children with autism and special needs,” said Deanna Picon.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in

68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder.  Behind these

startling statistics are overwhelmed and unprepared parents,

whose lives have been forever changed by an autism diagnosis.

"These parents are hidden heroes who bravely face autism and

all the enormous challenges and huge responsibilities that

accompany it on a daily basis. They may be your best friend, your cousin, your neighbor or co-worker," says Picon.  "Special needs parents deserve respect and recognition for many reasons,

including the sheer guts it takes to stay dedicated to this challenge."

Family and friends can apply these simple tips to make a huge difference in the lives of special needs parents:


Give an unexpected break.  Parenting is a 24/7, 365 day job for

these parents, so any time they can get a few hours for themselves is great. Offer to watch their son or daughter at home or take him/her

to a park or movie for a few hours. This will give parents the opportunity to participate in hobbies, events and activities they enjoy.


And if you’re a family member or close friend, perhaps you can keep their child overnight or for a weekend. They’ll have “peace of mind” knowing their child is safe and well-cared for.  Best of all, there are no child care costs.


Run an errand.  Pick up some food and beverages at the

supermarket when you shop or drop off a few letters at the post

office. It'll save parents much needed time and energy.


Bring a dish.  A pizza pie, box of chicken or even a take-out meal

from a local Chinese restaurant can make everyone feel good and valued. Little cupcakes are fun treats for desserts. Gift cards for a

local restaurant can be a wonderful surprise.

Assist with household chores.  Vacuum a room, sort the laundry or

cut up some lettuce and tomatoes for a salad. Remember, no

gesture is too small and parents will always be grateful.


Keep in touch and be supportive.  Special needs parents often feel alone and isolated, so it's really beneficial to let them know you're there, if they need you. With Mother’s and Father’s Day approaching soon, this is a perfect time to send a greeting card letting them

know they’re great parents. Text, email or call to just say "Hello".  


Listen without judgement.  Bring over some snacks, sit down and

just listen. Allow them to laugh, cry, vent and blow off some steam.

No one expects you to solve their problems or provide solutions. A friendly face or shoulder to lean on works perfectly.

These kind of simple but valuable good deeds don't have to be

limited to friends and family. Work colleagues can express their

support as well:

Treat them.  Little gestures can bring a big smile to the special needs parent in your office. Buy a cup of coffee or tea with a donut or bagel and place it on their desk in the morning. What a great way to start their day! Take a co-worker out for a nice lunch.