5 ways special needs parenting is like detective work

While I am totally aware that my skill set might not actually qualify for any real police work, I think it should at the very least give me some sort of in if I ever decide to enter that line of work and here is why:

  1. Sleep Deprevation: Parents of children with special needs can function without sleep. I’m not saying it’s pretty or perfect, but we manage and we hold it together (mostly). If I have learned anything from the countless episodes of The First 48 that my husband has subjected me to, it’s this: The serious action happens at night time. Most of the “crimes” at our house happen in the middle of the night. Fortunately for my husband, he has perfected the ability to fall asleep instantly — any time, anywhere. I ingest far too much caffeine for that to be a real possibility.
  2. Questioning The Witness: Have you ever seen one of those shows that dissects how two detectives work together to trick a witness into spilling the beans? There is always that one guy who doesn’t want to budge during the interview — he stutters, his stories don’t line up or seem too fanciful. Well, that is what it is like trying to get our son to recall a timeline of events. He is the Kaiser Soze of avoidance and storytelling, especially if something is causing him stress. He has also mastered the silent treatment. Our approach is more good cop than bad and we aren’t above making deals either. As long as we keep the peace, we’re good.
  3. Surveillance: Observational skills are key in keeping my child safe and happy. I am always on high alert and honing in on his location, sounds and behavioral cues. Some of the boys tics/stims are like little bleeps on a radar system that show me how close to a feeling we are. If he is excited and super happy, the bunny nose scrunch shows up. When his stress and anxiety builds up, he throws his arms out more. This means we need to redirect because pretty soon we are approaching a big meltdown. If he starts to helicopter his arms around, we have waited too long for the redirect and now we just need to find a safe place for him to melt. Without surveillance, we’re screwed!
  4. Gathering Evidence: Part of having a child with more than one diagnosis can mean more than one specialist treats them. These days the boy has a team of people — four specialists, to be exact. Now, not all specialists are created equal, and some aren’t so great at communicating with the others. Furthermore, they don’t always see eye to eye. As a parent, it is my job to advocate for the boy and what is best for him. I might be the expert on my child, but I am not a specialist in any other area, so I have to be able to collect evidence from these four doctors and make some sense of it. Usually, that involves a lot of research from a lot of different (and often conflicting) sources. Detective work is a full-time job, and gathering evidence is a huge part of it.
  5. Making Your Case: I refuse to believe that I am the only parent who feels like I am “making my case” in IEP meetings. More often than not, my full skill set is required here. I have to present what I know from interviewing my little witness, from observation and the evidence I have gathered not only from his specialist, but also from my own research. I know that I will be questioned myself, so the sleep deprivation can get me into a pickle here if I let my emotions take the wheel. Luckily, I am prepared (we’ve been practicing our social skills) so I know how to remain well mannered under pressure!

I’ve got a little contest going on over on my Momma Has Monsters blog, but you’ll have to come over there this time to be a part of it. Come check it out!


  1. Good morning mates! It’s not so bright and early here in the OZ. Kiel, good on ya, ya seem to have such a handle on how to parent your kid. You seem like a terrific mum. Be encouraged. Cheers!

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