healthspecialchilder1Many doctors are amazing at what they do and their expertise is essential in taking care of a child with special needs. However, as a mother, I have an amazing gift too – the gift of knowing and understanding my child better than any doctor ever will, no matter how skilled or brilliant.

Even without medical training, I’ve been correct in figuring out and diagnosing my son Nathan so many times when doctors were unable to help or still working on the problem. I’m not the only one that has this gift. In fact, almost all mothers have an incredible sixth-sense when it comes to knowing when something is wrong with their child.

As a mother, I feel it’s my job to insist and make my point when I know something is wrong with my son – even if the doctor’s aren’t sure. As a caregiver, that’s my responsibility to my child, and it’s the responsibility of every person taking care of a child with special needs.

In general, modern medicine has helped my son live a better, healthier life. However, there have been times when modern medicine and modern medical thinking have thrown up some roadblocks I had to work to get around for my son’s sake.

The Good Side of Modern Medicine

In all of my experiences with my son I’ve found that most traditional doctors listen to what I’m saying and put some stock in the fact that I understand Nathan in a way only a mother can. Most of the doctors I’ve encountered have genuinely cared about my son and helping him live a good life. They’ve also given me quite a bit of wonderful advice that I use to this day in caring for Nathan.

I’ve also found many fabulous alternative doctors to supplement Nathan’s health care plan, including an osteopath, chiropractor, and a naturopath. In many cases, these doctors and the treatments and routines they prescribe work hand-in-hand with traditional Western medicine to give Nathan the best of both worlds.

This combination of traditional and alternative medicine and the general availability of care for Nathan has been excellent, and I’m grateful to have received it at almost every step.

The Bad Side of Modern Healthcare

Doctors have been a lot of help in caring for my son, but there have been times when modern medicine posed problems for my son. Most of that came from doctors who didn’t listen to me about my son and just immediately assumed they knew better and I didn’t know what I was talking about.

In some cases, it seemed to just be arrogance; in others it was negligence. Either way, that’s been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced with my son when it comes to medical care.

What To Do When Doctors Won’t Listen

I’ve saved my son’s life several times by suggesting alternate treatments to doctors and nurses – even if they wouldn’t listen to me at first. I’ve suggested running blood panels and a variety of tests, and even gone over nurses’ and doctors’ heads to get the job done the way I knew it needed to be done.

This type of advocacy is what every caregiver needs to strive for when dealing with a child with special needs in medical situations. You need to insist on proper care and make sure your child gets what they need. Beyond being an advocate for your child, make sure that you are constantly educating yourself on the medical system and the laws that go along with it. Being armed with this  knowledge further increases your ability to speak up for your child, because you are aware and up-to-date.

It’s not always an easy road for children with special needs when it comes to modern medicine, and for many parents, it’s a struggle to speak up when they know something is wrong. But that’s exactly what you have to do.

Nobody knows your child better than you, and speaking up could save their life.


Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California and mother of three children.  She  works with Northwest to ensure that parents of special needs children are educated about their health care options . She writes more on healthcare for special needs children and her journey on


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3 Responses to “The Good and Bad Of Healthcare For Special Needs Children”

  1. Cinda Myricks Says:

    Great post! I have always had this thing for special children. They are precious! I have seen my neighbor’s child getting better each day with the help of naturopathic medicine and I have found true joy in his development.

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