Telling Your Story Can Be a Survival Guide for Special Needs Parents

“One day you’ll tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you’re going through now and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.” -Unknown

This quote resonated with me so strongly when I heard it. I had no idea this would be so true when I became a special needs mom. When my daughter was born, I was just trying to survive myself. I never imagined our experience would one day be helpful to others just starting out on their journey of special needs parenting. But it did.

Finding My Own Survival Guide

Shortly after my daughter was born, I was fortunate to find a support group of other parents with special needs children. Their children were older than mine and that meant they had been navigating this world longer than me. They could provide me with advice and resources I otherwise would have no idea how to access. These women not only helped me learn how to care for my daughter, they literally helped me survive! And by simply sharing their own experiences, they helped me navigate my emotions and learn that I could make it through this experience too.

Becoming A Guide for Others

I’m a firm believer that people come into our lives for a reason. When I joined a local moms group, I was the only mom there with a special needs child. It was hard to relate to the other moms and the things their children were doing. And sometimes it was hard to see their children thriving when we were just trying to survive each day. While their children were meeting all the typical milestones, my daughter was on her own, much delayed, schedule. But I shared my daughter with them openly and did my best to relate our experiences to theirs and just told our story.

Over the years, there were women in this group who found themselves facing a speech delay in their child, a potential special needs diagnosis, or had a child with significant needs. So I found myself becoming a resource to each of them. My experiences provided me with the knowledge they needed to help their own children. My experiences also provided me with the understanding needed to be able to provide them with emotional support. I welcomed them to the “club” that none of us ever wanted to be a part of, but found ourselves in anyway. Over the years, these moms have told me that my story was so helpful to them in navigating their new world. My story had indeed become a part of their survival guide.

Surviving Together

I’ve always said that I wished I didn’t have the experiences to help these moms. I wish my daughter didn’t have all of these special needs and we didn’t have to endure this story together. But the truth is, helping others through their experiences makes it easier for me to continue to overcome my own experience. It validates my experience and has shown me the purpose of my daughter’s life. She was put here, in this world with me as her mom, for many reasons. I’ve learned one of those reasons was for me to help others by sharing our story.  

Trista Gangestad

Originally from Florida, Trista Gangestad and her family moved to CO ten years ago and live on a small hobby farm with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband have 2 daughters, the oldest of which was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosome disorder. Trista has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and worked in Communications and Event Planning for more than 10 years before becoming a mom. During the pandemic, Trista discovered a need for clean burning candles that don’t emit soot or chemicals into our homes. She formed Clever Cow Candle Co. in 2021 and makes hand poured, 100% soy wax candles with clever, inspiring and sometimes sarcastic designs on the containers. Check out her candles at When this busy mom has time for herself, she enjoys sewing, crafting, shopping, drinking “candy coffee,” and watching guilty pleasure TV shows.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Laura Reid

    Beautifully stated Trista! Thanks for sharing even more of your story! I know I am not able to connect fully with what you experience but I have been inspired by you and your family. You have helped me understand as a mom we can survive hard things. Thanks for sharing yourself and your dtrs with us!

  2. Trista

    Thank you Laura!

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