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Looking after yourself

Being a parent of a child with special needs involves a lot of sacrifice, not just of time and energy (and money), but also of your sense of self. Carving out some time for yourself can help.

This Mumsnetter says: "I do find setting aside time to 'do nothing' if at all possible really helps. I try very hard to schedule time to do nothing. Often something happens and I don't get it but at least planning to do it means it happens sometimes. 'Doing nothing' for me means being at home, old film or house improvement programme on TV, copy of Heat, cup of tea, choc etc." Davros

Mumsnetters say having a special needs child has taught them...

  • "How to survive long-term in hospital and what to do when you escape for a few hours."
  • "That having a special needs child has knock-on effects on all sorts of other relationships."
  • "A good HCP is worth their weight in gold. A Statement is worth its weight in platinum."
  • "Parents of kids with SN are absolutely the best source of information, support and advice around."
  • "It has taught my husband that my hours on Mumsnet were, contrary to his suspicion, hours very well spent!"

Alternatively, take one mum's advice.


Oh no, sorry, that's terrible advice. Perhaps instead you could turn to family and friends. 

Mumsnetters say:

  • I'm sure I bore them, but my closest friends will at least listen, and my best friend is especially good at making suggestions - through me, I think they know more about the workings of the SN system than they ever wanted to! I would say that actually friends are the best people to turn to for escapism when it all gets too much. givemesleeporgivemechocolate
  • Family, particularly my sister, help me out; she will listen to me giving off or just offer a listening ear if I need it. As long as it's not too 'real' otherwise it upsets them, which I understand. I also have a couple of good friends who invite me over and we talk rubbish, drink wine and smoke fags (even though we've all given up). HelensMelons

Counselling and therapy

Having a child is stressful for most people, and having a child with special needs can mean extra work, both practically and emotionally. Some Mumsnetters have found that counselling offers a 'pressure' valve to stop the stress and anxiety from building up.

You may find that you are entitled to reduced-price or even free counselling if you qualify as a carer or are on certain benefits. It is worth asking your social worker or GP, or even contacting your local branch of Mind who may be able to point you in the direction of suitable services.

Mumsnetters say:

  • As part of a course I'm taking, I have to complete 20 hours' personal therapy. That has been the best money I have ever spent. Spent seven out of those eight sessions talking about my son and his ASD. I can't tell you how beneficial I have found it. HelensMelons
  • I have just started counselling once a fortnight - I got this through the Carers Association. I felt a bit of a fraud doing this as I feel I don't have any real 'problems' as such, compared to alcoholics and such like. However, it's really helped to just have someone to have a good old moan to. Eulalia


Last updated: over 3 years ago