Struggles, celebration

Welcome to our Special Needs Issue!

I’m so excited to be bringing you a magazine with this new, important theme.

Although we try to address special needs in every issue of Minnesota Parent — typically in our On Behavior department as well as throughout the magazine — I felt we needed to step up our game. 

And, boy, did we learn a lot in putting this issue together. 

While autism and ADHD have been heavily covered in recent years due to increased awareness and diagnoses, there is, of course, a whole world of other special needs that parents are facing today.

Indeed, in this issue, you’ll find the voices of parents who are struggling. You’ll find some who say they feel alone, isolated, frustrated and even a little bit terrified about the future. 

But you’ll also hear those same voices singing the praises of their unusual parenting journeys and their beautiful, extra-challenging children, who every day give them joy, too.

As with all parenting, it’s a mixed bag. And as with all children, their kids are worth celebrating.

And that is what I want this issue to be about — celebration (and hope). 

On our cover, we have a poster girl for that celebration, 9-year-old, “sprightly” Elsie from St. Paul, featured in a brand-new book — Faces of Autism: Inspiration. Admiration. Celebration. — by a Lakeville photographer, who has documented 30 inspiring children with beautiful photos that celebrate their personalities, talents and more. 

And inside the magazine, we have hope — hope for early intervention (including local success stories), hope for kids with sensory issues who want to learn to swim, hope for families shocked at birth with a Down syndrome diagnosis, and even hope for a better tomorrow when it comes to kids and kindness.

Yes, let’s acknowledge the pain, suffering and vulnerability that goes along with finding your way in a special-needs world.

But let’s also pay attention to what unites all of us on this parenting journey.

We love our kids and we want the best for them. 

And they all have the power to fill up — and just as quickly break — our hearts.

Sarah Jackson, Editor

Sarah Jackson is the Editor of Minnesota Parent magazine. She lives in Minnetonka with her 8-year-old son. Write her at