It is often difficult for parents to see what’s really happening with their child.

In our office, nine out of ten people calling about “A child they know” are the relatives.

Hinting to parents in a round-about way by talking of “This child I know…” may be the best approach so parents don’t get put off and defensive.

I’ve talked to some families that couldn’t admit their child’s disability at all.

When they finally did see it, it was too late for the best possible outcome for the child.  They asked for support and were refused.  After all, they hadn’t needed it for so many years, why did they need it now?

You don’t have to let your family fall into that trap.

As a parent, I am continuously learning to cope, accommodate and adapt to situations in order to improve the quality of our kids lives.  This is especially important to remember when dealing with all other special needs families.

People might assume our family has dealt well with autism so well that we can be used as examples of success.

Nothing is as it seems.

It took my own husband years to realize the undeniable truth of our son’s autism and to this day when Jonny goes places he will say “Did Jonny fit in?” meaning, are you sure he still has autism.

He does acknowledge Jonny’s differences during special needs team meetings, since he knows it wouldn’t look good if he didn’t.   He also tends to favor and protect him over the rest of the kids, which makes the rest of the kids feel bad.

A few of years ago, Jonny was right next to Jim and I.  I turned to Jim, right in front of Jonny, and said “Jonathan thinks he doesn’t have to do as much work as the rest of the family because he has autism”.  I was hoping Jim would pick up the cue and say “of course he does”.

Instead, he looked at Jonathan and said “Honey, you’re no different than anyone else in this family, you don’t have autism!”, and shushed me with his finger so I wouldn’t contradict him.  I couldn’t believe my ears!

For all Jonny’s life I’d been telling Jonny and everyone else about his differences to hopefully improve his life.  Jonny knows he has autism and is somewhat proud of his accomplishments despite the teasing and ridicule from others at times.  Along with his good times, Jonny has been hurt by the down side of his disability. A loved one afflicted by a disability can be like having a death in the family. No one ever really gets over it.

I’ve heard divorcees say the same thing.  A long term marriage that has been split apart is like a death too, especially if kids are involved. In that case, you have years of family events and holidays where the ex-spouse is likely to show up.  Naturally, this can agitate old emotional wounds.

No matter what initiates the grieving process, denial is a funny thing.

The denial process begins with guilt and ends with acceptance.

It never ends though. Instead it repeats itself over and over with each new experience.

Denial is very strong for most parents because having a child with a disability is felt like a loss.

One can choose to look at the good side of any situation, but no one can deny that there is a certain level of disappointment in learning that the child you thought you’d get was not the one you actually got.

Ego is also involved to some degree.

Even though admitting a disability is hard on the parent’s ego, the damage done to the child is irreversible if it isn’t admitted.

Acceptance and admission of the truth is the first step to set the family in motion for the best possible outcome.

How long did it take you to accept a “lifelong” disability of your loved one?

Do you have a disability that others refused to acknowledge?

What did you do to break the chains of denial and move forward with an accepting attitude?

From denial to acceptance, I want to you to share your story.

Share your unique story now by commenting below.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Here are recommend tips, strategies, and tools to help you understand and cope with emotional dynamics surrounding disabilities

To download a video presentation that will help you cope with disabilities click this link: