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I would like to talk about how has Covid-19 affected Families with Special Needs. We have heard how it has affected everyone as a whole and not on an individual level between each family or person.  

Families with Special Needs

When a family finds out they are going to have a child they are filled with joy and happiness. When they are told that there might be something ‘different’ with their child their heart might skip a beat. They may not understand what that means, and before they even get to know their child they might have a bad outlook about the future.  But as time goes on their outlook on life changes into something better.  Having a child is stressful, but having a child with special needs comes with a whole different level of stress.

A parent with a child who has special needs has to think twice before making a decision. Depending on the type and severity of special needs the child may have, they could go multiple different problems that can range from financial to educational to developmental. They may have to put their life on hold for their child.  These problems affect both the child with special needs and the parents differently. Parents depending on several different factors may choose to stay home with the child or have reduced hours at work.  Families with Special Needs spend a great deal of time in different medical facilities they almost become their second home. The bulk of their information regarding the type of Special Needs their child may have come from health care professionals. It is important to stay updated with any new findings regarding the child’s Special Needs.

Parents have to see if the places they go are accessible, friendly, and safe. Especially when it comes to getting their child educated.  Parents have to make sure when they drop their child off in the morning they are taken care of with the correct staff and accessibility. 

Life during Covid-19

Life was challenging enough before Covid-19 was an issue, and now the everyday challenges became even more difficult. Families now have to be extra careful when going out in public during this pandemic. Kendall et al. (2020) Families with Special Needs are at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 because the amount of people they have to interact with on a daily basis.

Families with Special Needs may be stressed out and tensions higher than before because health care professionals are being stretched in multiple different ways with their patients. On top of that there also could be a shortage of healthcare professionals.  Kendall et al (2020), mentions that people with Special Needs are “vulnerable” and “disposable.” Can you imagine hearing you are seen as a lesser because you have Special Needs?  What makes someone’s life worth more than the next person?

Families with Special Needs have to fight harder than ever to make sure they get the care they need from health care professionals.  And with a shortage of healthcare professionals they may not be trained in dealing with certain people with Special Needs.  While no one was prepared for this pandemic to happen we have changed our lives upside down to fit into the new lifestyle Covid-19 introduced. But that lifestyle was for people without Special Needs.

Coping Stragties

Snell & Rosen (1997), family congruence, cognitive coping, defining boundaries, and external system management styles are different ways of coping for families with Special Needs.  Having the whole family on the same page about what is going on is important.  That way everyone knows what is going on, and they know how to handle a situation should one arise.  It also helps reduce stress when everyone knows what is going on. It also helps when there is a positive outlook within families with Special needs. Families know they cannot control everything, but placing focus on the things they can control helps them to understand the Special Need a little bit more. Furthermore, it helps families learn to know what they can manage and what they cannot.

Having a good support system changes everything. That is where setting boundaries comes into play. Showing open arms to family members or friends who were there when things were tough and stayed through the hard times helps ease the stress. They are people to look too, and trust. They are the ones who are going to be there for the good and the bad and will help. Snell & Rosen (1997), knowing who is there and who is not helps ease the stress for families with Special Needs

Resources for Families

Families with Special Needs lean a lot on their child’s doctor for information and guidance. But that is just one source of support. There are support groups for families with Special Needs. Support groups offer real life advice or guidance instead of just having research based guidance. 

Below are a couple of links you can click if you or a friend needs help finding support for Families with Special Needs.



For Military Families with Special Needs
  • Resoucres:
  • Christine A. Price, Kevin R. Bush, & Sharon J. Price. (2017). Families & Change Coping With Stressful Events and Transitions(5th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, USA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 
  • Kendall, E., Ehrlich, C., Chapman, K., Shirota, C., Allen, G., Gall, A., Kek-Pamenter, J.-A., Cocks, K., & Palipana, D. (2020). Immediate and Long-Term Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic for People With Disabilities. American Journal of Public Health, 110(12), 1774–1779. https://doi-org.proxy.longwood.edu/10.2105/AJPH.2020.305890
  • Rev. Sean Martin. (July 4, 2018). Why we adopted nine children with special needs from foster care. LIVEACTION. Retrieved December 11, 2020.https://www.liveaction.org/news/adopted-nine-children-foster-care/
  • Sabatello, M., Burke, T. B., McDonald, K. E., & Appelbaum, P. S. (2020). Disability, Ethics, and Health Care in the COVID-19 Pandemic. American Journal of Public Health, 110(10), 1523–1527. https://doi-org.proxy.longwood.edu/10.2105/AJPH.2020.305837
  • Snell, S. A., & Rosen, K. H. (1997). Parents of Special Needs Children Mastering the Job of Parenting. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 19(3), 425. https://doi-org.proxy.longwood.edu/10.1023/A:1026124428774

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