What Causes Increased Stress for Parents of Children With Special Needs?

Stress takes its toll on everyone. The University of Maryland Medical Center points out that long-term stress can affect almost every part of the body. People who are stressed at work can change jobs or careers to alleviate the problem. However, some stresses can’t be avoided. Parents of special needs children have many issues that can cause stress. Recognizing these stressors helps parents learn to deal with them and reduce stress in the family.


Special needs children have special safety considerations. Parents may worry about health issues such as ventilators, feeding tubes or medication. Children who are developmentally delayed may not have a clear sense of danger. These children may wander away from home and attempt to eat toxins or dangerous items. Parents who care for these children must keep them under constant surveillance, even at night. Some children don’t sleep well and may rise in the night and hurt themselves or others. This means that many parents feel the need for constant vigilance, and they never feel safe enough to relax.


Families with special needs children face a different monetary burden than other families. Medical care, therapy and special equipment may be covered by insurance, but some companies limit benefits. Parents may still have additional out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while most families with special needs children have greater financial need, nearly a third of these families lose one parent’s income to provide the child with needed care 1. This combines to create a recipe for stress.


Special needs children don’t stay children. They grow up and become special needs adults. Parents may find themselves worried about the child’s future. Some children may be able to work and earn a living on their own. Many others, however, will never earn enough to support themselves. The stress of trying to save or invest enough money to give their child an independent future as an adult, while providing the child with all necessary therapy while she is young, is too much for some parents.

Relieving Stress

The best way any parent can help her child is to take care of herself. Living a long and healthy life lets a parent help the child for as long as possible. To help deal with stress that comes with constant vigilance, it is vital that parents create a group of trustworthy caregivers. This gives parents a chance to rest and relax. Work with a financial planner who understands what programs may be available for children with special needs. Make sure that any financial plan includes investing for the child’s secure future. Finally, take the time to enjoy the good moments. Savor every smile, every hug and every moment of every triumph.