No matter how it appears on the outside, no matter our age, culture, race, socioeconomic class, or even how successful we become, the truth is that we are all special needs children.
Social workers use the special needs label to categorize individuals with some kind of disability. For children, these can be developmental or intellectual delays, physical handicaps, or mental health and attachment issues. In my counseling office, I mainly work with the last two types of special needs children. These kids struggle in their academic or behavioral functioning. Oftentimes, these are maladaptions due to unmet needs for secure attachment to a parent or primary caregiver.
In chapter 8 of my new book, I talk about how important it is for the child to have a positive bond with her mother and father as a solid foundation to journey through this life. Think of the father as the right leg, while the mother is the left leg (or vice versa). When one or both are missing, children have to compensate for this very real loss. That’s why a death of a parent, divorce or single parenting, and custodial caregiving (foster care) are very difficult for children. As beautiful as a new beginning is, born out of parental love, adoption is also an event that will automatically enter the child into the special needs category due to our human attachment needs. The good news is that, as so many parents have demonstrated, no matter what special needs we have, it is possible to overcome. With the proper knowledge, skills, and values, we can thrive.
Yet, East Meets West also shares about my special needs that are invisible to people on the outside. Like many Americans, I was raised in an intact family by both biological parents, and still I had attachment needs. The only way for me to meet those deep needs was to delve into my roots and gain spiritual insight. It helped to think more deeply, discern more, and understand our human nature. Things are not what they look like on the outside. And this is true not just in your life, but also in the lives of those you compare yourself to.
Beware of false advertisement. The interesting observation is that by simply being human, we deceive.
Please take good care of your special needs.