Raising two beautiful kids (one with special needs and one without)

by Karla Barnett on January 2, 2012

Who knew how much guilt a mother could feel raising two children, two years apart, one with special needs and one without! I hate to admit it but I spend a vast part of my day wondering if I’m doing everything possible to enhance my son’s life….specifically as it relates to speech and his picky eating habits. Speech is one of the challenges we are facing and the main area of frustration for my little guy.
His expressive vocabulary is extremely limited while his receptive language is age appropriate. Imagine if you had a lot of things to communicate but there is a disconnect between the signals from brain to lips, tongue, jaw, and soft palate (Apraxia of Speech). He feels total frustration and it breaks my heart!!! Throughout the day, we constantly work on perfecting speech by using a multitude of mediums including iPad, flashcards, objects, books, etc. While we are making progress, it is a slow rigorous process!
Here is where the true guilt comes into play. As we are going through our therapy sessions, my daughter is in the background belting out each word. Her expressive language is expanding rapidly while my little guy’s creeps along. You may ask, “Why this would cause me guilt?” Well…..I want the best for both of my children and I HATE TO SEE one struggle.
After meeting countless amazing mothers with special needs and typical children, I have come to realize that the feeling of guilt is a common thread. Initially, I thought I was the only one feeling this way.
I’m so thankful for the women I have met at therapy sessions, doctor’s offices and through Dynamic Mom. I now realize I’m not alone and have the support I need to make it through the day!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri January 6, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Karla, great pictures!


Jennifer Fuller James January 11, 2012 at 8:43 am

I’m so glad you’re sharing your experiences. Connecting with other people who have simialr expereinces makes such a difference. Unfortunately, guilt does appear to be a common element that most parents of special needs children experience. You are doing the right thing, by getting your son therapies early in life. It will help him trendously. Try to focus on the little triumphs and make them a big deal (even if they wouldn’t be a big deal for your daughter).


Adrienne H. January 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hey Karla!

I love the new website- It is awesome!! I am relating to all of your posts and it makes me feel like I’m not alone in this…

I am also raising 2 children, 2 years apart- 1 with special needs , 1 without. Richard (Ricky) is 6 with Autism/Speech Delay and SPD( Sensory Processing Disorder-He needs constant movement,deep pressure). Malcolm Jr. is 8 and is very sensitive, quick witted, loves animals and science- your average silly 8 year old boy.

My guilt is that we have focused so much attention, time and money on Ricky and his disabilities that I feel that we took Malcolm for granted.

I agree that it can be heart breaking trying to balance the differences. And I am still learning.

Ricky wasn’t formally diagnosed until age 4 , although I had him in early intervention at about 18 months. We get so excited about every little thing Ricky does no matter how small. I reward his good behavior for standing in line at CVS with me without trying to run away or open a candy bar. (It really is a bid deal!)

One day, We were in our kitchen/family room. Malcolm was doing his homework, I was cooking and Ricky was – being Ricky. Malcolm Jr said to me matter of factly (as he watched Ricky jump on his trampoline, run to the table to eat a cookie and wrap it up with couch flips-) ” Ricky can do anything and it is ok with you. All you care about is Ricky”

I looked at Malcolm’s face and My heart sank!!

He was right!! Of course I cared about Malcolm but in his eyes, that explained it.!Ricky could begin to have a tantrum sometimes because his favorite show was going off, and to calm him down I would distracted him with a fruit snack.
To Malcolm, Ricky was living the high life! No homework, no consequences, all the snacks you can handle and hugs and kisses just because you put your cup in the sink instead of throwing it on the floor!!

They were 6 and 4 at the time. Malcolm had watched us cater to Ricky over the years as he displayed behavior that would get Malcolm banished to his room for the afternoon.

I have been conscious of creating some type of consequences for Ricky’s “bad behaviors” every since that moment (although minor in comparisons). I am still looking for the right therapy to get through the Ricky. It made me take a real look at what type of person we were raising, Autism or not. Catering to your childs every whim does not develop into a functional adult. It also made me deal with the tantrums and try to find a cause as well as deal with the lash out from Ricky not getting his way all the time.
I can see the line a little more clearly now of Ricky the spoiled child vs. his unmanageable behaviors caused by Autism.

As for Malcolm jr., We had to begin to correct his behaviors. Let him know that he is not second to Ricky and he is just as impartant. Show him that he does not have to act out for attention( or mimic Ricky’s bad behaviors) plus remind him how fortunate he is to be able to communicate his feelings and wants. (Now he is super opinionated! LOL!)
We also had to get him more involved in his own activities that were exclusive to him ( He is an excellent swimmer and loves creating stories) I felt it was important to get Malcolm around other children his age with special needs siblings.

I have to take specific time out to focus on Malcolms school work, develop his personal skills ,work on his areas of concern.(handwritting!) When I see Malcolm struggle in school on a particular subject or topic, the guilt creeps in again- If only I took more time with Malcolm going over this instead of dragging him along to Rickys OT session…

Malcolm is a Great Big Brother and is proud of Ricky’s accomplishments. I have learned to make sure that Malcolm and their older sister , Asia (20), know that their accomplishments,no matter how small, are just as important and should be celebrated as well.

All children will have his or her special abilities and challenges. The guilt creeps in because there is just not enough time in the day for it all it seems . Taking care of the kids, Running a business, taking care of the house, Hubby, cooking, exercise, the kids activities, homework, lifes drama, squeezing in “me” time …It can be overwhelming!

I agree the guilt is there but creating a this venue to express and share helps to ease that nagging voice in our head. We are learning so much from our children and that is a blessing we experience everyday.

Thank you for this venue to share and vent!! I always thought of you as a pretty Dynamic Lady!!


Karla Barnett January 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Wow Adrienne, we have so much in common! I totally agree, life and all the things that go along with can be overwhelming at times. Mothers with our journeys have to learn to give ourselves a break…..easier said than done.

Let me know if you would like to blog on the site. Like I said many times, it has been extremely therapeutic for me and I pray that this site will let moms with special needs children realize their not alone.

Thank you so much for the response and support. I’m always here for you if you need to vent!!!!


Pamela Jaynes January 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Love this Karla! You know, my Kaylie also struggled with the same speech disorder you mentioned….so I UNDERSTAND the struggle and guilt. Don’t let anyone ever tell you or him what he can’t or won’t do…Kaylie is a living, walking and TALKING example of what GOD can and will do…and of the power of determination. If you ever have any questions or wanna talk…I’m here! Keep up the good work! Your children are beautiful.


Karla Barnett January 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Kaylie’s story is not only inspirational to me but I’m sure to many other moms! I never allow people to state what my miracle child can or cannot do. He is extremely bright and despite he developmental delays, he knew his alphabets, shapes and able to count by 15 months. Although his was not able to speak, he identify through flash cards. Jonathan is another walking example of what God can do!!! I will be contacting you and look forward to your support. Your an amazing mom and should be commended for raising an amazing group of kids. Thank you Pamela!!!


Karla Barnett March 26, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Hi Karla,
First I want to say I applaud you for being such a loving and caring mother. I do not have a child with special needs but I do have two nephews that are special needs. I ran across your page while I was doing a search for my own name and yours popped up. It is amazing that there are so many people in this world with the same name and sometimes the same struggles. Please take care of your self and your children. Thank you for sharing yourself and family with the world.


Pawan August 1, 2015 at 9:01 am

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