Not all children conform to the usual expectations that we adults have for them. Raising an atypical child requires atypical parenting. It requires a never-ending process of scrutiny and decision-making that can overwhelm even the most devoted parents.

As a parent, the responsibility for a life is in your hands, and we often struggle to keep our own lives together while helping our children. It is easy to feel helpless when you’re trying to consider all the options and it can feel like an impossible feat to juggle the recommendations of doctors, teachers, therapists, social workers, friends and family members. Mothers in particular are at greater risk for developing depression compared to the average mother of a typically-developing child.

Raising atypical children takes a significant toll on parents, a burden too often bared in isolation. Few people recognize how much parents’ mental health impacts their children’s well-being. The emotional challenges that the parents of atypical children face are both complex and profound.

Parenting an atypical child triggers powerful emotions such as denial, anxiety, loneliness, depression, courage, optimism and joy. The emotional well-being of parents is important to each and every child, typical and not. If you are a parent, you know what I mean. If you are the parent of non-traditional learner, I know what you’re going though and you’re not alone. Have faith in yourself, you cannot know what the future will hold.

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Passing judgement on parents is easy. What is harder is taking the time to ask a parent, “How are you?” As is so often true, the hard things are worth doing.