What does inclusion mean to a mother of a special needs child?

Parents of children with developmental problems bear a lot of stress. A mother burnout is a common phenomenon, thanks to our patriarchal setup, where the sole responsibility of catering to a special needs child or even a neurotypical child rests majorly with the mother, 8 out of 10 times.

The result is mother burnout! Sometimes, it is very disappointing that the mother has no respite at all. Your social life takes a beating, to an extent that you end up having no friends at all. Your entire life revolves around that child who becomes the sole purpose of your existence. You try to seek petty pleasures outside of your routine, only to feel guilty and you are always on an emotional rollercoaster. You try to be that friend to your child, which your special needs child finds so difficult to find. You know you are working for your child’s future, but still walking on eggshells every day.

A mother who is going through all this knows much more than others on how to handle her child. Please do not ask her questions like, “Have you tried enough of this ….. ” kind of questions, or please do not sympathize with your “I feel so sorry for you and the child. What is wrong with her/him btw? ” kind of statements, because a burnout mother does not need any of these from you. She knows all of this and has probably tried every possible thing for her child.

There is no rule that a special needs mother should not pursue her career goals. So, please do not tell her to quit her job and be with that child 24/7. You do not know her financial struggles, so better to not judge.

All she needs is plenty of support and opportunities for her child to be included in the mainstream. Can you foster better social opportunities for her child? Can you be that change maker for that child by strongly advocating inclusion? Can you be a that good neighbour, teacher, friend, who can for a minute walk the life of that parent to understand what it means to be a parent to these children? Can you help us overcome these barriers? If yes, then you can significantly reduce ‘mother burnout’ to a great extent… Till that happens, the mother uneasiness continues…