How to be a Special Needs Friend How to Be a Good Friend to a Family With a Special Needs Child Inform yourself on the specific special needs.  Research online, read books or watch a video recommended by the parent. Be sensitive to both the child and parents and the possibility of mood fluctuations. Realize that your friend may not be able to attend functions and events that atypical children attend.  The crowds, noises, and bright lights might over stimulate the child and cause a meltdown. Be understanding to your friends.  They might not be able to answer the phone or make/keep plans with you. Listen.  Sometimes your friend just needs a friendly ear.  Don't offer advice or empty platitudes – just listen. Offer to watch your friends child for an hour or two so that they can enjoy a much needed break.  This could be during the day so they can go shopping or get a mani-pedi, or at night so that they can enjoy a date night. Attend a support group, school meeting, or doctor appointment with them.  Take notes for them so they'll have a record of the meeting.  You might catch something they miss. Bring over dinner.  Call them in advance so they'll know you're providing it.  Sometimes the stress of raising a special needs child interferes with normal routines. Pray for your friend and their family. Send your friend an encouraging note, email, text or card. Determine what the special needs child's favourite thing to do is and experience it with him or her. Offer to help your friend to clean the house, walk the dog or do the laundry. If your friend has atypical children also, offer to take them to a movie, the park or go bowling. Learn what is the most calming thing the special needs child enjoys and learn how to do it. Think before you speak.  Never say “Get over it.”, “I understand.”, or use the word retarded.  Each child is unique, so are the situations and the parents.  As a friend the best things you can do is to be supportive, informed on the condition, and a friendly ear or shoulder.
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