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  • Writer's pictureAmy Dougley

Raising a child with special needs - finding your "village"

We’ve all heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. And it does. But, what I’ve come to discover is it that it takes small collection of handpicked "special forces" to raise a special needs child. And it’s not just anybody…it’s not quantity, it’s quality.

So often our kiddos don’t get the inherited pleasure of being delighted in. As a parent you have to have a keen sense of who truly honors them, enjoys them and sees them beyond their challenges.

It’s a mix of intuition and mystery. You have to trust and hold out for the good ones.  There is no negotiating on this. Volunteers are few.

It requires us as parents to take stock and create a vision for our child and our family.  You mustn’t adopt the one handed to you with the diagnosis. As this vision gets clearer you can slowly bring it all into fruition. The players will appear. And it’s not static, it will require care:  nurturing, letting it all breathe every so often, pruning out parts and recalibrating.  You will have to expel some and pull in others. You’ll find over time, some people become less effective than others and some you have yet to meet. It’s a living thing. You have to be prudent.

It comes down to love…who holds love in their heart for your child,  who wants them to live in their highest expression of self… who sees both the possibility and dares to be surprised along the way. That’s the kind of village that our children thrive in....and it takes us to make it happen.

So, envision and share with your trusted ones… listen, keep an eye out, stay true to the courses and your village will come.

Karin Francis is a Registered Psychotherapist who just joined our team at Pathways To Hope. As the parent of a special needs child, Karin is able to provide support to other families and caregivers by combining her education and professional experience with her personal and lived experience. For more information about Karin, or to book a free consultation, call us at 519.751.0728 or email

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