Parenting a Special Needs Child Takes a Toll on the Body

Keara Engle avatar

by Keara Engle |

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Being the parent of a special needs child can be difficult in many ways. One challenge is the effect it has on mental health, which makes self-care essential for parents of special needs children. But it also can take a physical toll on the body.

One way parents can be affected is by being tired most of the time. Life is often hectic for the parents of a special needs child. The body can feel like it’s running around nonstop juggling doctors’ appointments, managing medications and other treatments, attending therapy sessions, and more. And that’s in addition to the everyday activities of feeding, bathing, changing, and playing with a child.

Doing all of these things day in and day out is physically exhausting. It can result in a lack of motivation to do the things parents typically enjoy, because we’re focused only on how badly we want to sleep.

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Special needs parenting has also affected my body by inflicting painful injuries from carrying around my 3-year-old son, Cayden, who weighs 32 pounds. Because Cayden can’t walk due to his low muscle tone, I usually carry him from place to place when we are at home. I also lift him in and out of the car, carry him up stairs, and get him in and out of his crib.

These things used to be easier when he was younger and it didn’t really affect my body. But the older he gets, the harder it becomes. I have back pain from time to time, and I recently tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder. While I can’t be certain what caused the shoulder injury, my doctor suggested that carrying excess weight all the time can take a toll on my muscles, which makes sense, because I do it every day.

Being a special needs parent also can take a toll on one’s weight. Things like stress, anxiety, and depression can cause atypical weight fluctuations. Most special needs parents are no stranger to these occurrences. Struggling with weight can affect a parent both physically and mentally.

Despite all of these difficulties, as parents, we still wake up every day determined to advocate and fight for our children. Nobody said this journey would be easy. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.

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Note: Pompe Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pompe Disease News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Pompe disease.

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