Caring for a child with special needs is not easy. Yet, there are thousands of strong parents out there stepping up to the plate and caring for their children who may just need a little bit of extra love and attention. While it may have moments of difficulty, it can be one of the most rewarding things someone does in their life. Children with special needs truly are special and they have more heart, dedication and gentleness inside of them than a lot of people out there in the world.
Children with special needs are born to anyone. It is not a situation that discriminates based on geography, culture or economic standing. That means that there are lots of celebrities out there who are caring for their own children who have special needs. From Autism to rare genetic disorders, they are out there doing the same thing that every other parent is doing, just trying to do their best.
Some of the celebrities on this list have children with special needs that are pretty much common knowledge, while others may surprise people. It takes a lot of patience and love to care for children with special needs, and the parents often have days that are extremely difficult. There are 20 things that they really need to hear. Throughout this list, not only will we list the 20 celebrities who have a special needs child, but also words of love and optimism that we all need to hear.
20 Sylvester Stallone
When someone hears the name Sylvester Stallone, they immediately think of Rocky: a tough man with an even tougher heart. Stallone’s son, Seargeoh, was diagnosed with Autism at a very young age, and this is what his father had to say about it all; “God and nature made him different. We have to accept Seargeoh the way he is and understand that his way is just more quiet and reserved.”
Stallone understands that no one is perfect and being perfect is often a label that a lot of parents of children with special needs holds themselves too. They don’t want to make a mistake, because the way they see it, they can not afford to make a mistake. This can be a very dangerous mindset and it is important to remember that no one is perfect, and no one expects anyone to be.
19 Jenny McCarthy
It is not a huge secret that Jenny McCarthy has a son who has Autism. Her son, Evan, was handed the diagnosis. However, she has been constantly spoken about due to her controversial views on treating the condition naturally and stating that it was caused by vaccinations. Regardless of how the public views Jenny, she is going what she believes is best for her son, as is any parent of a child with special needs.
Speaking of treatments for children with special needs, therapy is one of the best interventions available. Therapy for a young child with Autism is not about sitting on a couch and talking about their struggles, it is about play. They receive therapy through the process of play, which is a universal language for all children. Children with Autism often have a hard time verbally expressing themselves, so letting them be creative through play can be very therapeutic and fun!
18 Christopher Gorham
Christopher Gorham is best known for his work on the show Ugly Betty, but his hardest and most important job is taking care of his son. His son, Lucas, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome around the age of nine. Here is what he had to say, “It’s upsetting to hear that something is wrong with your child. At the same time, it’s a relief to know what’s wrong with your child because if you know what’s wrong than you can start to take steps to help them.”
Truer words have never been spoken. No parent wants to find out that their child has a special need, but it can be a great sense of relief. Only until you have diagnosed the issue can you take steps to offer support and interventions that will help them live the best life they can.
17 John Travolta
John Travolta and wife, Kelly Preston, rarely talked about their son Jett. It wasn’t until Jett’s tragic passing at a young age that we really knew the extent of his special needs. Jett had Autism, and at the age of 16 he suffered a seizure that resulted in him hitting his head and ultimately passing away. The world was with John and Kelly at this time, and we all felt for this family.
Just like John and Kelly, one thing a parent probably needs to be reminded of is that they are not alone. There are hundreds of other parents out there who are sitting there feeling alone as well. Facebook and social media has become a great outlet for parents to turn too. Whether they need to vent to a group that understands, or they just need some support from parents who may be struggling with the same things that they are.
16 Dan Marino
Dan Marino is a professional football player, so he is a tough and athletic guy. Showing again that having a child with special needs is not dependant on your health or financial standing. Marino’s son, Michael, was diagnosed with Autism when he was just three years old. Marino’s words are nothing short of inspirational. “We’re going to do whatever we can to help Michael to get the best help. We want to give him the best change he can have to succeed in life.”
If those words weren’t enough, his son’s condition inspired Marino to start his own foundation. The foundation focuses on spreading awareness of Autism and assistance to those living with it. Celebrities may face the same challenges as everyone else, but some would argue that they have an easier time accessing services due to their status and bank account.
15 Laura San Giacomo
Laura San Giacomo is a popular American actress and mother to a child with special needs. In 1996, Laura gave birth to her son Mason who was born with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy, which is commonly referred to as CP, is described as the loss or impairment of motor function. Laura had this to say about her son’s condition; “We don’t have a really constructive or positive view of disability really around the world. But what would happen if the doctor said to you, instead of these ridiculously heartbreaking predictions, which are so often not true, why don’t they say to you, ‘Look, this is the greatest gift you’re going to be given.’”
This is very true; a lot of people have a very negative attitude when it comes to facing a physical or mental challenge in today’s world. There is often a lot of worst case scenarios and pity, when it really shouldn’t be that way. The world needs to change the way it sees people and children with special needs. They don’t want anyone’s pity, they just want to be loved.
14 Greg Grunberg
Greg Grunberg is known for his acting in Alias, Heroes, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he is also known as a father to a child with special needs. His son, Jake, has epilepsy. Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders that are characterised by epileptic seizures. While a lot of celebrities have had a lot to say about the needs of their children and the importance of researching.
Greg simply states that “talking about this is so important.”
People don’t want to talk about things that are unpleasant, we want to talk about sunshine and rainbows and all that is good in the world. However, not talking about it is not going to make it go away. Mind you, talking about it won’t either, but talking about it openly is the first step in making sure that support is provided. Talking about things is the only way we are going to erase any stigma or preconceived notions about certain conditions.
13 Jorge Posada
Here we have another athlete. Jorge Posada is a former Yankees catcher and he is another parent of a child with special needs.
Jorge has a son, also named Jorge, who was born with Craniosynostosis.
This condition causes deformities in the skill and can hinder intellectual and physical development. This diagnosis led Jorge to launch a foundation that offers family support and research into this condition. Another celebrity who is using their platform to complete some amazing work.
Jorge and his wife, Laura also wrote a book together. The book is called The Beauty of Love: A Memoir of Miracles, Hope and Healing. This book goes through the entire family’s journey through all the medical operations that their son has had and how they remained strong through it all. Celebrities are role models and people do look to them. When they can offer advice and help to others, it should be taken very seriously.
12 Jourdan Dunn
If Jourdan Dunn looks familiar, it is probably because you have seen her a million times. She is a top model and the face of Maybelline New York. She is a British woman and has stated many times that her career, no matter how successful, will always come second to her son.
Her son, Riley has sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia is a debilitating blood disorder that can cause extreme pain and arrested development.
Dunn stated, “I make sure my son is my main priority no matter what. I will put that over any job.” Dunn is now an ambassador for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. This is the true definition of a mother. A mother (or father) will put everything on hold when it comes to taking care of their child. Even if they live a lifestyle of the rich and famous, we are all just mothers at the end of the day.
11 John Schneider
John Schneider is an American actor who is probably best know for his work on Smallville. He probably considers his most important work the work he does with a lot of children’s foundations for Asperger’s and other forms of Autism. His son, Chasen, was diagnosed with Asperger’s and this diagnosis played a large part in John’s choice to be an active advocate for children with similar diagnosis.
A lot of the time, we are hesitant to get involved in foundations and charities unless it directly involves someone we love. It takes someone we love and hold dearly to face these challenges until we start to stand up and fight for their rights and research into prevention and treatment. It doesn’t have to be this way, we could get involved now and try and be a part of the solution. Even if it just standing up for the rights of these children, a little goes a long way.
10 Joe Mantegna
Who knew that one of our favourite crime actors was a father to a child with special needs.
Joe Mantegna’s daughter, Mia, has Autism.
They don’t let that hold their family back though. He stated in an interview, “We thought if we were going to face this, let’s all face it together. Let’s do this as a family.”
Sounds like a wonderful family that anyone would be proud to be a part of. When there is a household that has a child with special needs, it is not only the child and the parents who are facing challenges. If there are other siblings, they are also going to be impacted and they often get overlooked. They are going to be called on to help, and they are going to find that they are not getting as much attention as their sibling who has special needs. It is a hard balance for parents, but if the family can come together like this one, everything will be OK.
9 Jon Stewart
Who doesn’t love Jon Stewart? He has rugged good looks and is a very talented man. No one loves him more than his own children. Jon Stewart’s son was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating Gluten. Those who have this condition can find themselves very ill if they eat any Gluten. It may seem like this would be considered “no big deal” in today’s world when it seems everyone has an intolerance to Gluten; however, it is not that simple.
As a parent, you are responsible for feeding your child. When your child has a condition that means you must monitor ingredients in their food closely, it can be hard. You don’t want to make a mistake and have your child become very ill because they ate something they shouldn’t. Kids are also very picky eaters, and while there is a large range of gluten-free products, there is no guarantee your kid will want to eat any of that!
8 Colin Farrell
Who knew Hollywood’s bad boy is a father to a child with special needs? Colin’s son, James, suffers from a genetic condition called Angelman Syndrome. Angelman Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that is characterized as a mental disability and can cause jerky movements. Colin has done a lot of work with the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome and states, “when you’re the parent of a child with special needs, it’s important to feel that you are not alone.” That is the reason he started working with the foundation, to feel like he was not alone.
While we stated earlier that no parent is perfect, and that’s a good thing, it is also important to remember that in your child’s eyes you are a super hero. There is so much more on the parenting plate, and yet you manage to get it all done at the end of every day. A feat that another mom’s just can not understand!
7 Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin may not be a celebrity in the traditional actor/singer category, but she is still a household name to a lot of people. The 54-year old politician told the world that her son, Trig, was born with Down Syndrome. She had some pretty powerful words about it as well; “yes, we face extra fears and challenges, but our children are a blessing, and the rest of the world is missing out in not knowing this”.
One of the constant themes among parents of children with special needs is that they spend so much of their day, week and life caring for someone else. They often forget to take care of themselves. They put themselves last because they fully understand that their children come first. It is OK to advocate for time for yourself it’s encouraged. One will not be able to care for others properly if they do not first care for themselves.
6 Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton is another celebrity who has a child with special needs. Her son, Diezel, was diagnosed with Autism and it has led to Braxton doing some work with Autism Speaks. This is what she had to say about her situation, “As a parent you always feel, was there something I could have done differently. What I’ve come to understand through my friends at Autism Speaks, is there is nothing wrong with our babies, and it’s nothing you’ve done, or you could have done differently, it’s just what the situation is.”
She is not the only parent to hold themselves responsible for the struggles their children face, however she has realized that she needs to let those feelings go. There is no place in putting blame on anyone because a child has special needs. It is always best to put your chin up and carry on doing your very best.
5 Jacqueline Laurita
Jacqueline Laurita is a reality star celebrity. She is known for appearing on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. While on the show, she has shared a lot of journey being a parent to a child with Autism. She showed the world all the ups and downs that come with caring for a special child.
She stated, “I don’t think people should be afraid or ashamed to share their struggles. When you open up, you often find that it’s the support and generosity of others that can provide the strength and tools you need to get through it.”
There is a lot of truth to what she stated. Parents of a child with special needs often feel like they are all alone. They don’t want to complain or vent about any of their bad days because they don’t want people to think they can’t handle it or that they don’t love their child. Every parent has bad days, and it should be perfectly normal to talk about the difficulties you are facing without fear of being judged.
4 John C. McGinley
John C. McGinley may not be a household name, but if you are a fan of the show Scrubs than you know him very well. Did you know that he has a child with special needs? This actor has a son, Max, who has Down Syndrome.
McGinley is now a board member and international spokesperson for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.
It is heartwarming to see a lot of these celebrities really stand up and advocate for these challenges. They have an extensive platform that can reach a lot of people and it is inspiring to see them appreciate that and use it to further the search and support into these illnesses that their children, and many more, face. There is a reason why I write a child with special needs, and that is because the person should always come before the illness. A disability should never be used to describe a person, much less a child.
3 Brian Littrell
There is probably no one more recognizable than a Backstreet Boy. The popular boy band of the 90’s (and still doing shows today) is full of good-looking and smooth moving guys. Brian Littrell was one of the more popular ones with the ladies, and if you are a real fan than you would know that Brian himself has a heart condition.
What you may not know is that his son, Baylee was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, which causes a lot of heart problems in children.
A lot of the time when it comes to heart conditions and many other illnesses in children, parents are faced with many hard decisions. Sometimes, they must choose to have their child go through an extensive surgical procedure. It is not an easy decision to make, and it is not the only hard decision that parents of children with special needs has to make.
2 Katie Price
Katie Price is a very successful and beautiful model, but she is also a mom. Her son, Harvey, was born in 2002 and he has been diagnosed with Autism, blindness, and Prader-Willi Syndrome. Prader-Willi syndrome is a genetic condition that is due to the loss of specific genes. This can lead to several problems in infants and children. One of the biggest concerns with this condition is that the child lacks the ability to tell them when they are full, so they keep eating. This can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes, each having their own medical side effects.
Katie Price stated the same, “The syndrome he has means he feels hungry all the time, so he’ll just eat and eat and eat. It is really tough at times.” Parents of children with this condition often must lock up the food and work with their child on not overeating or eating proper foods to maintain a healthy weight.
1 Mark Feuerstein
Mark Feuerstein is an American actor that is most well-known for playing the role of a doctor on the show Royal Pains. The irony of his time spent playing the role of a doctor, when he would soon need a lot of doctors is not lost on him. His daughter, Addie, was born with a rare heart condition.
He stated, “It’s a miracle. All those surgeons, doctors, and nurses who helper her remind me what an honor and privilege it is to get to pretend to be one of them.”
When it comes to children with special needs, there are normally a team of doctor’s and specialists with you help you come up with all medical needs your child has. Some, like Mark’s daughter, require surgery to help correct of stabilize the issue. Others are more for therapeutic reasons. Some children with special needs require therapy to improve their speech or assist them if they have any sensory issues that they need to work through.