Special Needs Parents Encompass "Doing it All"

Being a parent isn't always easy.

Parenting a child with special needs is even harder.

Sandra Shellhouse’s 23 year old daughter Amanda was born with Cerebral Palsy.

When she was an infant she was put into Early Intervention at the Vaughn Blumberg Center.

"Being a parent with a special needs child will either make you or break you. One of the hardest things I had to deal with after she was born was, why me? One of my former preachers, told me – God doesn’t give these children to anybody. He gives them to people he knows can take care of them, so I look at it as a blessing. She does keep me grounded, she reminds me every day that it's the little things in life," Shellhouse said.

"She's in a wheel chair. She has to have assistance with feeding, toileting, bathing everything. All of her activities of daily living, you have to provide those,” Shellhouse said.

Sandra is a Hospice Nurse and Quality Manager at Geneva Hospice.

She says being a special needs parent comes naturally for her.

"I've been doing it for so long, its second nature to me," Shellhouse said.

She says the hardest part is how few programs are available for people with special needs.

After Amanda graduated high school it took years for her to get into Vaughn Blumberg.

"The need is here in the wiregrass area. Getting her in when we first got her on the list here she was at 1,600 they do that based on criticality. As her criticality increased, she moved up on the list," Shellhouse said.

Sandra hopes telling Amanda's story will inspire other special needs parents to take action.

"I stayed in contact with Harri Anne Smith our senator, all the time to get her in here. Talk to your senators, talk to your congressmen, write letters, whatever you can do because it's important that we have places for these individuals," Shellhouse said.

Although it's a tough job, Sandra says Amanda has taught her to never take anything for granted.

"She's my rock; I don't know what I'd do without her. Yeah we have our ups and downs and we have our moments, but she keeps me grounded,” Shellhouse said.

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