ARTICLES / Children / What
Children with Special Need Really Need /
By Helen Rauch-Elnekave
Shai's parents have assigned him household chores
along with his siblings. He rides his bike in the
yard, takes care of his own needs independently, and
even goes to the movies. They do not make excessive
concessions for him and have avoided giving him the
feeling that he has special rights because of his
problems. Shai's mother reported that she expects
Shai to clean his room by himself, "Otherwise, he
won’t be able to find his things!" Shai is a regular
member of his family, not the most important one.
When I asked Shai's mother how a child with so
many problems could be so "normal," she explained
that she and Shai's father decided to make every
effort to assure that their son would live as normal
a life as possible.
Today, Shai is a happy, imaginative, intelligent
and independent child, for whom the clinic staff
wait with anticipation at the time of his monthly
Shai is living testimony to the importance of not
letting pity blind us to the needs and innate
strengths of children with special needs.
As parents, we must be honest and recognize
our unexamined feelings regarding our special
children. We can expect to feel anger at our child
with special needs, or at the universe, because it
is a natural, human reaction. What we can throw away
is the guilt and feelings of omnipotence that cause
us to react in unnatural ways to our children. Guilt
only causes problems and omnipotence is a kind of
An added benefit of indulging our children with
special needs less is having the time and energy to
give a bit more prominence to the needs of our well
children. They have been so understanding, but many
have experienced a degree of emotional neglect.
Helen Rauch-Elnekave, Ph.D.
is a semi-retired pediatric psychologist with 30
years of clinical experience. Her specializations
include Medical/Pediatric Psychology and
Developmental Psychology. Dr. Rauch-Elnekave is
currently living and practicing in Israel.