Beyond Self: Fostering Unity and Advocacy in the Special Needs Community

Parenting is an intricate journey, and when you’re a parent of a child with special needs, the challenges can be even more profound. However, the strength and resilience displayed by parents within the special needs community are truly remarkable. Beyond nurturing their children, many parents are actively engaging in advocacy efforts to empower the special needs community and ensure the rights of individuals with special educational needs (SEN) are recognized and upheld.

Raising a child with special needs brings forth a unique set of challenges that can be overwhelming for parents. However, it’s crucial for special needs parents and the broader community to shift their focus from individual struggles to collective advocacy efforts. By looking beyond their personal experiences and embracing a more inclusive perspective, special needs parents can play a pivotal role in creating a supportive and empowered community.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the importance of how special needs parents can contribute to the advocacy and empower the special needs community.

Understanding the Power of Advocacy

●Advocacy is not just about speaking up for oneself; it’s about amplifying the voices of others who may be facing similar challenges.

●Special needs parents possess a wealth of experience, knowledge, and empathy that can be harnessed to advocate for broader changes within the community and they can even consider volunteering for some causes who are really doing the path breaking work.

●By advocating for a more inclusive society, better access to resources, and improved support systems, they can positively impact the lives of not only their own child but also countless others.

Knowledge is Power: Educate Yourself

●Understanding your child’s specific needs and the legal framework surrounding SEN rights is the foundation of effective advocacy. Educate yourself about relevant laws, regulations, and the rights of children with disabilities in your region.

●Familiarize yourself with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and your child’s rights as per NEP 2020 in a school setup to ensure your child’s educational needs are met.

Moving Beyond Self-Absorption

●The journey of a special needs parent can sometimes lead to a self-absorbed mindset, as the constant demands of caregiving can be all-encompassing. However, by expanding their perspective, parents can foster a sense of unity within the community. This requires recognizing that the struggles faced by other parents might be just as daunting, if not more so.

●Empathy and understanding should drive interactions, as it’s important to remember that the person they are communicating with could be a special needs individual themselves or could be experiencing even more challenges.

Creating a Supportive Network

●A strong support network is essential for any parent, but it’s even more crucial for those with special needs children. Special needs parents can contribute to building a supportive network by actively engaging with other parents and caregivers. Connecting with other parents in the special needs community can provide a sense of belonging and a platform for sharing experiences.

●Online forums, local support groups, and social media platforms can help you connect with other parents who can offer advice, resources, and emotional support.

●Sharing experiences, insights, and advice not only helps alleviate isolation but also creates a sense of camaraderie. By offering a listening ear and a helping hand, parents can provide emotional sustenance to others in the community.

Raise Awareness

●Use your voice to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the special needs community.

●Sharing your personal journey and insights through blogs, social media, and public speaking engagements can help dispel misconceptions and foster empathy.

Advocate for Inclusion

●Inclusion is essential for the empowerment of individuals with special needs. Advocate for inclusive education and activities within your community.

●Encourage schools, clubs, and organizations to provide accommodations that allow children with special needs to participate fully.

Empowering Others Through Advocacy

●One of the most powerful ways to make a lasting impact is by empowering others to become advocates themselves.

●Participate in local, national and international advocacy groups dedicated to promoting the rights of individuals with special needs. These groups often organize events, campaigns, and initiatives that focus on creating positive change and raising awareness.

●Special needs parents can encourage and guide fellow parents to voice their concerns, seek support, and actively participate in advocacy efforts. By doing so, they create a ripple effect that extends far beyond their immediate circle, resulting in a stronger, united community that supports each other’s growth and wellbeing.

Collaboration and Collective Action

●Change rarely happens in isolation; it’s often the result of collective action. Special needs parents can come together to form support groups, parent associations, and advocacy committees.

●By pooling resources, knowledge, and skills, they can amplify their efforts and bring about systemic changes.

●Collaborative projects can range from awareness campaigns to lobbying for policy changes that benefit the entire special needs community.

●Establishing strong lines of communication with your child’s school and educators is vital. Attend parent-teacher conferences, IEP meetings, and workshops. Collaborate with teachers, therapists, and counselors to create a comprehensive plan that addresses your child’s unique needs and learning style.

Engage with Legislators and Collaborate with Professionals

●Special needs parents can be powerful advocates by engaging with legislators and policymakers.

●Attend regional meetings, write letters, and participate in campaigns that address issues related to special needs education and services.

●Consult with lawyers, educational consultants, and disability rights experts to navigate complex legal and educational systems. Their expertise can guide you in effectively advocating for your child’s rights.

Promote Self-Care

●Advocacy can be emotionally demanding, especially for single parents.

●Prioritize self-care to avoid burnout. Taking care of your well-being ensures you can continue advocating effectively for your child and the larger special needs community.

Lead by Example

●Your determination and dedication to advocating for your child can inspire others in the special needs community to do the same.

●By leading by example, you create a ripple effect of empowerment and positive change.

In the journey of raising a child with special needs, it’s important for parents to broaden their perspective and embrace a role beyond self-absorption. By advocating for the needs of others, fostering empathy and unity, volunteering for organizations and actively participating in community initiatives, special needs parents can create a powerful impact that goes beyond their personal struggles. By working together and supporting one another, they can pave the way for a more inclusive, empathetic, and empowered special needs community.

Parents of children with special needs possess unique insights and strengths that can significantly contribute to the empowerment of the special needs community. Through education, collaboration, advocacy, and self-care, single parents can work towards ensuring that the rights of individuals with SEN are recognized, respected, and upheld. Your efforts can create a more inclusive and understanding society that supports the potential of every individual, regardless of their abilities.

Thank you for reading! Do comment below and provide your valuable feedback.

Author Shilpi Mayank Awasthi
Founder SpecialSaathi


The Big Jhappi Podcast “Keep er Lit”- “The different journey but what the heck”

The big jhappi podcast “Keep er lit” is back with yet another episode from our very own effervescent Ashuti Menon.

“The different journey but what the heck”: part 3 by Ashuti Menon. In today’s podcast Ashuti has some companions joining in…listen the podcast now and find out yourself…

So, let’s say “The different journey but what the heck” ..


Your Child is not a Problem to Solve!

“मन – day की बात SpecialSaathi के साथ”

Enriching Family Interactions with Theater Arts

A therapy mindset, constant stream of information on problems and challenges, and many other factors can get parents into a constant problem-solving mode! Your mindset matters! I was delighted to hear from two parents last week that after being in the LIFESMART group for a few months, they have started relaxing and starting focusing more on rich interactions with their child. Remember, your child will develop for life. So will you.

The question to consider is:

How can you bond with your child, have enjoyable interactions and support his development?

Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) offers a pathway. Theater arts provide a set of tools for engaging and enjoyable interactions between family members. The five tools of Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar include movement and dance, music and rhythm, storytelling, drama, and arts and crafts. Parents of babies and young children intuitively sing to their child, move with their child, tell stories to their child, use dramatic expressions to interact with their child, and do arts and crafts with their child. So we have all encountered TAHD elements in one way or another.

Enhancing Family Interactions: The TAHD Way
The ingredients are familiar but how do we use them in a mindful way to achieve different outcomes?
How can we weave in TAHD throughout the day to enrich interactions between the parent and child?
I am starting with this question in the second part of our 100-Days of Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) Lab to shift attention from “fixing” the child’s challenges to creating the right family interactions to help the child grow in the long-term. Join the TAHD 100-Day Lab here.

1.TAHD is not a drama course!
It is a way of teaching, learning, and living!

2. Your child is not a problem to solve.
TAHD gives a way of engaging your child in a more joyful way while addressing varied learning and development needs.

3. Evolve a more intuitive parenting style
One of Ananth’s therapists used to say that much of parenting is subconscious. It is very difficult to parent with ease with thousands of objectives and challenges running around in our brains all the time. TAHD can help you discover a more intuitive approach while addressing your child’s challenges.

A Guided Tour of TAHD
We are starting from Day 51 this week. As my goal in starting this group was to encourage parents to think about TAHD and support them, I will organize my daily shares as a guided tour. While TAHD is new to me, I have used elements of the framework for years because of our Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) experience, Waldorf/Enki education experience, and because of Ananth’s Bharatanatyam experience.

Since LIFESMART is my way of looking at development of neurodivergent (and neurotypical!) children and adults, I will use LIFESMART elements too in my presentation
L: Learning daily | I: Interests | F: Family interactions | E: Engagement with Community

Worksheets and Resources
I will also start sharing a few worksheets and resources that I am developing for parents to think about TAHD and its application in a systematic way. Please review and respond to posts when you can as it will help me develop such resources for parents

About Our Journey

Ananth started his journey with RASA (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya in November 2020). I discovered TAHD and decided to do the four levels of TAHD courses to help parents learn TAHD, work with TAHD professionals, and realize the benefits of RASA programs. Dr. Ambika Kameshwar is featured as the changemaker for February. Read about her journey here.

I completed level 1 of my training this week.

Many parents get certified in Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) etc. Until I found TAHD, I was not moved to get certified in anything. Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) is the only approach I have been moved to get certified in even though I know nothing about arts. I do know something about parenting neurodivergent children and I think TAHD is a pathway for more joyful parenting.

Dear parents,

My message to you:

Yes, you can! It is possible to experience joy and happiness while parenting neurodivergent children while addressing their challenges and putting in enormous effort every day for many years. It is question of how you see your role as a parent, what you prioritize, and where you invest your time and resources. Choose well!


The best part of the year for the Rodrigues family: Mega Christmas video

We wish you a merry Christmas.

The rocking ParentSaathis the power couple Janice and Bryne Rodrigues alongwith their super-awesome kids Joanne and Brydan wish you all a Merry Christmas through an episode from their YouTube Channel Autism and Beyond – A Positive journey of J & B

Merry Christmas!! 🎅 🎄 ❤️


Happy Children’s Day!! From SpecialSaathi Team

To all the Super Duper Awesome and Fantastic Bachhas!!

A very Happy Children’s Day to you all!

Team specialsaathi wish you a fantabulous and fun filled, enjoyable moments and the happiest returns of the day, not only today but forever!!

All the Saathi members of Specialsaathi team are extending their heartfelt wishes to you through this post.

Happy Children’s Day To each one of us-
Dr Sonali Kataria Sirohi

“So true …
When I read it .I was thinking as a parent of special needs…and I just feel the same analogy for my son This is true for all the parents here too and for the kidos ..young or adult,
boy or girl..
They may not do anything as per their age and as per norms of society but their presence in our life is enough for us ..what we get is that छाया, like that पेड़ their unconditional, unstoppable love and laughter .
Thanks to the writer who wrote this …

*”हर पेड़, फल दे”*
*यह “ज़रूरी” नहीं…*

*”किसी – किसी की”*

*”छाया भी”,*
*बड़ा “सुकून” देती है!!!*
Happy Children’s Day
God bless everyone
Love and blessings”
Arpita Yadav
Laughing Buddha

“Every child is mother nature’s precious gift, blessings from heaven, a wonder to behold and a treasure to cherish. Let’s nourish, embrace and help them shine.
Dear kiddos, childhood is just not all about being wild, having fun and enjoying a carefree life but to enjoy each and every moment of it till it lasts.
Lots and lots of love and blessings to you all; Happy Children’s Day!” – Shilpi Mayank Awasthi

“My dear Children!

It’s a poem I wrote long ago for all of you who have to lead the country.

I don’t have any advice for you , It’s a promise I want to take from you all as the older generation who will have to now sooner or later step aside. Read my poem here…A promise
Happy Children’s Day”- Simmi Vasu

A video message by Nilanjana Rambothu

“Children are my passion, they teach me how to live and love life, unconditionally.
I am blessed to give them whatever I can, to achieve their best potential.
This process makes my life complete.
Wishing all of you a very Happy Children’s day !” –Yamini Goenka

“My dear kids !! You all are the most beautiful and amazing human beings I have ever met or seen.your presence , your smiles , your gestures of love bring so much energy and life. I always admire you for all the hard work you have been doing . Keep dreaming , keep rising and keep shining. Lots and lots of love” – Vandana Gautam

“I extend my warmest greetings and best wishes to you all… A Happy Children’s Day. In addition, let’s celebrate this day with joy and fully appreciate the gift of childhood that has been given to us.” – Anshul Batra

“To all my people out there. You could be a child, a parent, an educator…it does not matter. You are all my fellow humans on this journey that we are on. A journey at is in equal parts exciting, infuriating, frustrating, joyous but above all liberating. It liberates us from any limitations that we may have put on ourselves in terms of our endurance or strength, for on this journey we meet our true selves, a powerful one one who fails at times but then bounces back. The very spirit of our child like resilience. Let this Children’s Day be a salute to the child within all of us. Our truest form whose spirit remains untouched, free of shackles and full of joy! Love and Light to all.” – Sonia Jaitley

Dear parent,

I have three suggestions for you
1. Follow the 4Es. Explore with your child, engage them in a variety of Experiences, create opportunities for your child to Express themselves, and Enjoy your time with your child.
2. Use the five theater arts tools (movement and dance, music and rhythm, storytelling, drama, and arts and crafts) to implement the 4Es.
3. Find ways to enable your child to express himself or herself using angika (body movements and nonverbal communication), vacika (speech and language), aharya (props and setting), and satvika (emotional expression).

Learn more at
We homeschooled and lived this way but TAHD has provided a way to organize and communicate this message to others.
Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. 2006 _Theater Arts for Holistic Development._ Ramana Sunritya Aaalaya Trust.
Ananth’s mother
LIFESMART and TAHD Parentsaathi- Dr.Dasaratha Rama

“Happy Children’s Day to all our .. Every child is an unique kind of flower and all together make this world a beautiful garden. We assure you all to make this planet more congenial for you.” Blessings From Praval Yadav

“Lil kids and friends
There are three suggestions I want to give you.
1. I think movement is good for neurodivergent children because they cannot do desk work for eight hours. I have been dancing for ten years. I also like to go on long walks.
2. I recommend folding with Wholemovement because found it to be a relaxing activity. I have been folding circles since I was nine years old.
3. Playing the piano is also a relaxing activity and I think it is good for neurodivergent children.

Please visit my website at http://www.ananthraghunandan,com. I will be starting a page with suggestions for parents and children soon. Happy Children’s Day” -Ananth Bhaiyya

“You can learn something new everyday if you listen to your children because children are most positive people you”ll come across..
Happy Children’s Day” – Heena Sahi

“Our blessings & love for you all & forever. You all are and will always be winners in our eyes. God bestow you with his choicest always. Keep smiling and keep reminding us the importance of being kind and compassionate. We love you.”Kreeti Maasi

Congratulations kids!
Participating in an event itself is an accomplishment, and you crossed that hurdle, went further and won the prize!
You have made not only yourself and your parents proud but to the whole community and esp your peers!
Keep going and God Bless you all! – Shinjita Pant

I feel blessed to extend my warm wishes to the little angels on the occasion of Children’s Day! Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world. I whole-heartedly pray the best future for our children! May they prove to be an asset for the nation! – Dr.Vikas Dixit

My dear little champions,
Today I wish you all the best in life. This day is dedicated to you. May you all stay healthy, cheerful and successful in every thing you do.
You give strengths to us parents. Thank you for being part of our life.
Shishir Kant Misra
Grand father (Nanu) of Roshnee.

Hi kids,
You are one of the sweetest blessings of the Almighty.You present before us different opportunities to explore.You are full of love, kindness and care.
” You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think”.Your special strengths and challenges will make you shine and enlighten the world!!

Love you loads kiddos!❤️❤️- Archana Shankar

Happy children’s day to all my beloved kids. Their speciality made us to learn more to meet their speciality and we became special educator for others. – Poonam Pandey

May the innocence that they hold, stays forever in their pure heart and bring the best out for each and every one of them. Children are blessings on Earth, nurturing them is are way of showing gratitude. Nourishing them is our prayer for the future.
Happy Children’s Day to everyone celebrating Rakshita Misra

I m grateful to Shilpi for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the art competition. Each art work was beautiful so judging it was not easy. As such every art created is a wonder in itself . Thank you once again. Monika Saroch