3 Things You Can’t Buy This Christmas - Raising a Child with Special Needs

Claire Smyth by Claire Smyth Additional Needs

Claire Smyth

Claire Smyth

If your house is anything like my house, the kids have been excitedly taking about Christmas presents for, let’s face it, months!

Money can buy a lot of things.

But it can’t buy many of the most precious things in life.

I was reflecting on what things I really want for my girls this Christmas, things I want them to put most value in, that have lasting worth, and things money just can’t buy.


We moved back to Northern Ireland a year ago to be closer to most of our family.

The children were growing up fast and each passing year away from our families, we could feel the tug grow stronger, beckoning us back towards grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunties & uncles.

Granted, all families have their complexities and problems, we are all different people trying to get along and love each other!

You really don’t have a choice when it comes to picking your family but family can be, and is, one of life’s greatest blessings and securities.

Especially when one of your children has many complex health and learning issues.

I am also so grateful for my loving husband and four daughters, that we get to be a family together and share life’s journey.


Real friendships take a lot of work.

They require mutual effort, patience and understanding.

I’m grateful for friends who support me in both the good times and the difficult times.

Friends who go out of their way to do something nice or helpful.

Friends who make time to give me a call, send a text or email, or meet up for a coffee.

I want my girls to grow up to be good friends, and to make close friendships that will support and nurture their unique characters.

Life would be meaningless without relationship.

For Brielle, I want her to have friends who appreciate her for who she is.

Friends who praise her many accomplishments and strengths, not those who get caught up on her disabilities and limitations.

She’ll have friends with disabilities like her, and she have others who are perfectly healthy and, ‘able,’ – I do not wish her to be excluded from either circle.


How often we take our health for granted.

This Christmas, we are delighted that the girls’ Grandad no longer requires regular dialysis, after a successful kidney transplant in October.

And although Brielle spent a night in hospital a week ago due to chest complications, the hospital admissions and illnesses used to be way more frequent and long.

Our little medically-complex miracle is getting more resilient, hooray!

We must appreciate every new day we have in good health, and live every day to its full potential.

For looking around us, and in our own experiences, we know that life is fragile and unpredictable.

Life is a gift.


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