The Heart of a Special Needs Dad

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

In my eyes, special needs dads take that definition to whole new level.

My husband, more than just a “father”, is a wonderfully loving dad.  There are things I see him do every day that clearly display how his heart is worn on the outside of his body.

Although I may not tell him often enough, I see all of the little things he does that make him amazing in his parental role.

I see the heart of a special needs dad.

I’ve watched him stay strong and calm while our daughter endured debilitating seizures.

I’ve watched him cuddle and comfort her after they’ve ended, while I’ve all but fallen apart.

I’ve seen him heavy hearted when our daughter was hooked to IVs in the hospital, yet still managing to keep a bright smile on his face for her.

I’ve seen him hug our son tight after a meltdown, speaking peacefully, turning chaos into tranquility.

I’ve seen him read endless articles on Autism, soaking up knowledge to be the dad that our son needs.

I’ve watched him immerse himself into each new interest that our son has become engrossed in.  He’s competently mastered the subjects of reptiles, Minecraft and science fiction podcasts.

I see how his heart swells with pride when our daughter takes an independent step in her gait trainer, turns a page in a book, or brings her spoon to mouth, all by herself.

I watch his heart melt when at six years old, she will crawl over to him and stretch her arms out for him to pick her up.

I see him beaming with delight when our son spends time in a noisy place unscathed, or when he tries a new food.

Even though he’s not in the stands at baseball games or in the front row of dance recitals, he’s there cheering on physical therapy sessions and therapeutic horse riding demonstrations.

I watch him cheer them both on in life, from the front row, and the love for his children is quite visible.

For all the special needs dads out there, I see you.

Your life is filled with moments that others could truly never understand or fully appreciate.  Not only do you protect and provide, you do so much more.

You give complete and unconditional love and unending support.

You keep a brave face when the going gets tough and you’re doing a fantastic job.

Wishing my husband, and all the other special needs dads out there with great big hearts, a Happy Father’s Day.


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