So “Special” it “Needs” to Be Shared Series: How to Nurture Connection with Your Special Needs Child by Ardice K. Lorscheider

POSTED BY on February 09, 2022

The first time I held my child, I realized just how much my parents loved me. As the months went by, I discovered that my little girl could not walk or talk. In my mind, I imagined a little girl that could run to me, put her arms around me, and whisper in my ear, “I love you mommy!” I didn’t know at the time if that would ever happen.

I knew I had to find ways to connect with her. Just like in any relationship, I had to nurture our connection. I wanted her to know I was her #1 fan and loved her with all my heart. But how could I when she was challenged in so many ways?

When you have a child with special needs, you have to think outside the box. You might have to get creative and put aside past mindsets. You might have to create new ones that work for you and your child.

First, be willing to learn from them. I often say my daughter is my greatest teacher. Special needs children are amazing teachers and have so many gifts. They can teach us that life is about love and serving each other. Observe their gifts and encourage them to share.

I was checking out at the grocery store one afternoon when my daughter was little. She had just started holding her head up on her own and was sitting in the cart. The cashier kindly said to me, “You sure can tell how much she adores you.” I looked down to find this beautiful face smiling right up at me. You could see and feel the love radiating from her. I would have missed that moment had it not been for that kind cashier sharing that observation. I learned that day to look and smile more at her to catch those sweet connecting moments.


As time went by, I discovered that my daughter had a great love for people. We started making a game out of it, and would pass people on purpose in a store just so she could smile, wave, and eventually say “hi” to them. In our family, she now affectionately has the nickname of the “Wal-Mart greeter”. What a gift!

What are your child’s gifts? Slow down and observe. Learn from them and help them share those gifts. It just might surprise you how much it will connect you and your child together.

Second, find ways to share positivity. It is important to share positivity with our children. When raising a child with special needs, there can be some very challenging moments. Develop and share a positive perspective with your child.

When my daughter was little, I would go into her bedroom every night and tell her a special phrase. Year after year, I would whisper it to her. It was a powerful affirmation to her and myself of the person she was. Later when she gained her ability to speak, one of the first phrases that came out was the same one I had said to her all those nights. She was listening. The power of words or actions can make all the difference when connecting to our children.

Lastly, find activities to connect with them. It can be a very simple activity, like reading a book together, blowing some bubbles outside, or exploring a favorite museum together.

When you have a child with special needs, you have to think outside the box. You might have to get creative and put aside past mindsets. You might have to create new ones that work for you and your child.

When my daughter was very young, I discovered her connection to music. We often spent much time driving to all her appointments so I would play children’s music in the car. All those years of driving we listened to the music together. Slowly in time, she started humming to the music in the car. Eventually her humming turned into full on singing. I love hearing her voice. Now that we don’t have to drive as much, we can dance and sing together at home. It is an activity that has evolved over time and I love connecting with her through it.

Other ways to connect with your child are through organizations that provide activities for children with special needs and their families. My husband loves to ski and has taken our daughter through a special program that has helped her ski with him.

Remember, to nurture connection with your special needs child doesn’t have to be complex. Keep it simple. Not every child is going to express themselves through running to a parent or whispering I love you to them. It can be in the simple moments of being open to learning from them, sharing ways to believe in them, and finding activities together.


Ardice K. Lorscheider

Ardice K. Lorscheider was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Lake Oswego, Oregon.  She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University, where she graduated with degrees in Social Work and Family Science. 

Ardice fell in love and married a sweet Utah boy.  The Lorscheiders spent 20 years dealing with infertility to have their beautiful family.  She is totally smitten by her three amazing girls.  She has served as a youth president in her church and as a school parent organization president. 

Ardice is a business partner with her husband and together they serve the oral health needs of northern Utah County.  She also serves on the Board of Directors for Uplift Families.  Her greatest service has been serving her eldest daughter who has special needs.  Every day she is reminded of what matters most.  Ardice is charmed by architecture, reading at the beach, and tea parties in the garden.   


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