Impact of Hurricane Sandy on Children with Special Needs (and their parents)

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy has had such an impact on people's lives: loss of power, water, heat, etc ... for days on end and with no relief in sight for some. Yet, for those who have escaped true devastation, the stories of heartbreak we hear make us thankful that these are the only "losses" we have suffered.

For families where both (or the only) parents work, even finding childcare for a day off due to school holidays is a challenge. 5 days off? And with no time to prepare? Though not the true hardship we have read about, this week has been very difficult on parents trying to figure out what to do with their children. Even if parents are stuck at home, they are suddenly "on-duty" 24-7 and are expected to find activities for their children as if they were cruise ship directors. But for parents of children with special needs, it's a whole different ball game.

As these parents know, any change to the normal routine can have a dramatic effect on their children. 5 days of "I'm bored" and you are looking at a run on Motrin to make our current run on gas look like a vacation.

I was sitting with my children at a local coffee shop and watching a loving mother try to calm her son and I realized she had been doing this all week. And though her nerves surely were frayed after a week without a break, she somehow kept her cool. Some people stared, but I made a point of telling her she was doing a great job. Because, though she has jokingly told me her son can tell you how many syllables the train conductor uses in his announcements, I know how difficult it is.

So parents, know that you are not alone. And while you think you may feel the burning eyes of those around you when your child has a meltdown, know that at least some people are quietly admiring the job you are doing. And as for the others, let them take their coffee to go.

The most important thing now is to do what you can to return to some sense of normalcy for your family. Hopefully your children will have school on Monday. And if so, raise a glass of wine. And if not ... Raise two.

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