SOF special needs children
If you have a child with special needs, you’ll be glad to learn that SOF families have access to special support and services.

By: Family - Family - 3/6/2017

  • Seek support from other family members and friends who can help you adapt.

If you have a child with special needs, you'll be glad to learn that SOF families have access to special support and services.  It's normal to feel overwhelmed, shocked, and perhaps denial when you first learn that your child has exceptional needs.

Physical reactions such as crying or lack of appetite are common.  You might even grieve the loss of your initial hopes and dreams for your child.  Then you face the challenge of having to adjust your expectations and lifestyle.

Here are a few things you can learn from other parents of special needs children:


  • Support between spouses is essential, especially early in the process.  This can be even harder for SOF families because one partner might be deployed at any time.  Seek support from other family members and friends who can help you adapt.

  • Learn as much as you can about your child's disability or medical condition and what it means for his or her future health and abilities.  It will help you stay positive about your child's future while also being realistic and accepting of his or her possible limitations.

  • Expect your social life to change.  It's important to maintain old routines, especially if you have other children.  However, the time you spend with friends is likely to decrease, especially at first as you focus on your child's needs.  At the same time, be careful you don't isolate yourself.

Be aware of your own coping strategies during this stressful time.  They can enable you to be attentive to your child while maintaining your own strength.  For help with your coping skills, read the article "Developing  your coping arsenal".

You can find support groups and resources with local and national organizations.  Explore your Family-to-Family Health Information Center and get connected to other families and support groups.  Enroll in the military's own Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), which will connect you to a coordinator who can help you figure out what programs and services are available to you.  The DoD Special Needs Parent Toolkit is a comprehensive guide that discusses medical and special education services as well as benefits and entitlements.


The SEAL-NSW Family Foundation provides assistance with educational testing, services, and tutoring for active duty SEAL families.  The MARSOC Foundation offers advocacy and services for children enrolled in EFMP.

Many parents of children with special needs become highly satisfied in their parenting role.  Connect with the right support and resources so you can experience this same sense of accomplishment while guiding your child through life.

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