Why My Child’s Special Need Makes Me Want To Hide

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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There are times in parenting children with special needs when embarrassment, humiliation, and shame seem to be part of the landscape. Often, the tendency is to run and hide away from the world. However, we've found a better way.

He was louder than loud and I was withering with every syllable he spoke. I looked at my son with that “please stop” facial expression, but he didn’t notice, nor have a clue how others were perceiving him. Sure, he was only 6. Sure, all children his age tend to miss social cues. But the other children around weren’t shouting inappropriate questions, or pointing at other people.

I wanted to run. No, scratch that! I wanted to run…then die… in a corner, somewhere, alone. The way they looked at my son, and me, was awful, disrespectful and embarrassing. It was all I could handle. But that wasn’t the end. To make matters a million times worse, my oldest son had decided he didn’t want to leave, didn’t like what my wife was telling him to do, and launched into a screaming violent tantrum.

Two sons, both doing embarrassing, humiliating things. In public. In front of strangers.

Running for cover.

Our two sons suffer from Alcohol-Related-Neurodevelopmental-Disorder (ARND), often known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. To say life has been hard is an understatement. It’s a fine mixture of exhausting and defeating. In fact, if I’m honest, just typing this diagnosis causes waves of anger to sweep through my mind. At times I’m angry at their birth moms and the selfish, awful decision they made to consume alcohol during their pregnancies. My sons have permanent brain damage because of it.

I lament, and rant quietly to myself, but it does not change our circumstance.

While both of my sons have ARND, they each react differently. My oldest son has acted out violently so much, that it prompted us to move him into residential care in another state. There’s no amount of positive thinking that can make you feel better about this decision. It sucks. Plain and simple!

My younger son displays many similarities and signs of being on the autism spectrum. That’s how his brain has reacted to the damage caused by alcohol. His inability to talk in a normal volume, or interact with other other people in an appropriate manner, makes us want to wither and quietly crawl away before anyone can make eye-contact with us.

This is our life. These are our sons. This is their condition. And this is our prison sentence!

Or is it?

Standing Tall, Standing Proud.

I think about my two sons and my heart fills up. I love them. I am more than honored to be their dad. Most importantly…I believe in both of them deeply. God has huge plans for their lives, in-spite of what happened to them before they were born, in-spite of extreme behavior, in-spite of a diagnosis!

Their diagnosis is not their name, nor does it define their future. Regardless of our circumstances now, or how each of my sons react to the choice their birth mother made, the present and the future are bright. Because we choose to see it this way.

So, we choose to stand up, stand tall and stand proud! Why? Because we can. And, because we should! Our sons are amazing, strong, creative, beautiful human beings. We have nothing to be ashamed of. So what if others don’t see them this way. I’m their parent, not other people! So what if their special need prompts some things that may not be considered “socially acceptable?” Girls wearing leggings as pants is not socially acceptable as far as I’m concerned but everyone has, for the most part, accepted that!

Sure, we want to hide at times, but we won’t. We love our sons and we choose to believe in them. We choose to fight for them. It’s the choice we’ve made. The power of choice can overcome any adversity, or difficult life circumstance. The choice is ours!

Are you raising a child with a special need? Have you ever felt like running from cover? Share your story with us.

Join me LIVE on #Periscope this afternoon at 1:00 pm EDT as we discuss today’s post, ‘Why My Child’s Special Need Makes Me Want To Hide.’ You can follow live by downloading the app here. After you’re in search for ‘Mike Berry’ or follow @ConfessParent!

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.