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Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms

Melinda Smith, Parenting Coordinator

Parenting is a demanding job. It’s physically draining as you chase an active, exploring child.  It’s mentally exhausting when you deal with discipline, mood swings and temper tantrums.  Add to this the stressors of school, jobs, housing and navigating through some very complicated relationships and you get a sense of what our teen moms must shoulder. But there are a handful of exceptional moms at Hope House who tackle even more – they have a child with special needs. 

The Parenting and Early Learning Programs have teamed up to offer these moms opportunities to meet, share experiences, and get support. The idea started during Parenting 101 class

Sienna, one of the teen moms in attendance, shared about her daughter’s “specialties.”  Sienna had taken her daughter’s challenges and reframed it in a way that focused on her daughter’s uniqueness and sent the message that she is precious beyond measure. Sienna spoke of medical appointments, daily injections and worries about ever placing her daughter in a childcare center if they aren’t equipped with what her daughter needs.  

Another mom, Nayeli, told of the heart surgery her daughter had at a week old with a second surgery before she turned one. I sat and listened in awe as these young moms shared advanced knowledge of child development and medical issues. At Hope House, we often make referrals to Child Find or encourage moms to seek help from their pediatrician, but I knew we needed to do more for these moms.

We started with a special lunch for the moms who have a child with a chronic medical issue or who receive developmental services. It’s important for moms to share their stories and talk about how difficult it can be to get an official diagnosis, the judgments they may feel, and how it’s ok to feel that some days are more than they can handle. Often we aren’t looking for someone to fix our problems – just someone to acknowledge us and say, “That’s rough. I’m sorry you’re going through that.”  

As each mom talked about her situation, there was a sense of relief. The moms also made a point to brag on their children. Those events that might seem insignificant -- but a child with special needs who tries a new food or avoids a meltdown during speech therapy can be a major victory and deserves to be celebrated. 

One of our moms who is still adjusting to her daughter’s autism diagnosis described it this way: “Having a group like this is amazing because I feel comfortable talking to other moms about my daughter and her special needs. It’s nice to know that others go through the same thing with their child. When I talk to anybody else they don’t understand, and it is a very touchy subject!  In our group, we can all have a good laugh, shed a few tears, seek comfort and find great resources for our child’s needs without a single judgment from any mom.”

One positive result of the group was when Melissa, a teen mom whose son receives developmental services, requested that an Early Learning Teacher attend the next Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting at his school. Melissa has always been very independent in finding resources and helping other moms get connected. Asking for an advocate at an important meeting was a big step for her. Hope House staff loved that Melissa recognized our teachers know her son well and could speak into the discussion on his progress.  When asked what this group meant to her, Melissa replied, “Knowing that we aren't doing this alone and have other moms that we can lean on and ask for advice.”

By offering scheduled times throughout the year for these moms to meet, we have created support and a network of resources. It’s amazing how fast you can be an expert on having a child assessed, medical tests, paperwork, and therapeutic services once you’ve navigated that process. Hope House moms want to share everything they’ve learned so that another mom’s experience might be just a little bit easier. 

It’s not just the children who have specialties – their moms are amazingly generous and helpful young women who bravely take on the biggest challenges in parenting.



As this new group continues to grow, we hope to plan some fun outings to local places that offer fun activities. Several museums offer sensory friendly play times and there are even gyms who are designed for children with special needs. Below are a few great local resources we plan to visit:



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Blog Archives

March 2018

Organizational Growth and Human Resources: Meeting the Challenge - 03/28/2018

January 2018

Organizational Growth Cycles: Stages that Lead to a Mature Nonprofit - 01/23/2018

November 2017

Knowledge Share #19: Creating Unity: The Power of Mealtime - 11/20/2017

October 2017

Knowledge Share #18: The Power of Networking - 10/12/2017

September 2017

Knowledge Share #18: Engaging the Millennial Generation - 09/19/2017

August 2017

Knowledge Share #17: When the Dream Seems Too Big - 08/17/2017

July 2017

Knowledge Share #16: Personalized Learning - The Cornerstone of our GED Program - 07/18/2017

June 2017

Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms - 06/08/2017

April 2017

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children - 04/18/2017

March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017

February 2017

Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017

January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017

November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016

September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016

August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016

July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016

June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016

May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016

April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016

March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016

February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016

January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016

December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015

October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015

July 2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015

May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015

April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015

February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015

January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015

December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014

October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014

September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014

July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014

June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014

May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014

April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014

March 2014

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February 2014

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January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014

December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013

November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013

September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013

August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013

July 2013

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June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013

May 2013

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