Special Needs TikTok examples.

Special Needs TikTok Parents

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Updated Apr 12, 2022 at 12:14PM EDT by Zach.

Added Apr 11, 2022 at 03:16PM EDT by Owen.

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Special Needs TikTok Parents refers to a subculture on TikTok of parents with special needs children or children with disabilities documenting their daily life raising their child. Typically in such content, the mom or dad has a special needs kid most commonly with Autism, Down syndrome, Tourette syndrome or physical disabilities that require a wheelchair. The trend started most notably in 2020. By 2022, the trope became increasingly recognizable, so much so that the parents began to be parodied by other users on the platform.


It is difficult to trace the original parent of a special needs child who first documented their life on TikTok. However, an early example comes from TikToker[1] jode599, the mother of a daughter with Tourette syndrome, who posted her first video featuring her daughter on November 10th, 2020, earning roughly 115,400 plays and 7,500 likes in two years (shown below, left).

On December 23rd, 2020, the TikTok[2] account stories_about_autism posted its first video. It shows the two parents' non-verbal, autistic son miraculously reading "Ho-Ho-Ho" on the side of a Christmas-decorated house. Over the course of two years, the video earned roughly 30,700 plays and 1,700 likes (shown below, right).


Going into 2021, more parents of special needs children started posting content about their children. The majority of the content aimed at building a community around parents who could relate to each other when they otherwise felt isolated. Another notable creator emerged in late 2021, TikToker[3] johnnyautismlife, who posted his first video on December 30th, 2021. The video shows the father's son Johnny, an autistic adult, running around the house while the father narrates. Over the course of four months, the video earned roughly 18,100 plays and 1,200 likes (shown below, left).

On January 11th, 2022, the TikTok[4] account mom.in.wheel.life posted her first video of her and her son, who's in a wheelchair, performing a lip-dub skit. Over the course of four months, the video earned roughly 27,300 plays and over 630 likes (shown below, right).


Backlash / Controversy

As more and more special needs parents appeared on TikTok and within people's "For You" pages, some users on the platform began to view them negatively, believing that many of the parents were exploiting their children for engagement. For instance, on April 1st, 2022, TikToker[5] lukey.pukey69 posted a video that used the "I May Have Just Found A Side Hustle" sound and captioned it, "Parents of special needs children when they discover tiktok," earning roughly 419,000 plays and 75,100 likes in nine days (shown below, left).

On the same day, April 1st, TikToker[6] 48cn28 posted a screen-recording she took of her "For You" feed, showing her seeing lukey.pukey69's TikTok[5] just before a mom.in.wheel.life livestream was recommended to her. The TikTok (shown below, right) earned roughly 1.2 million plays and 220,200 likes in the same amount of time.


Search Interest

External References

[1] TikTok โ€“ @jode599

[2] TikTok โ€“ @stories_about_autism

[3] TikTok โ€“ @johnnyautismlife

[4] TikTok โ€“ @mom.in.wheel.life

[5] TikTok โ€“ @lukey.pukey69

[6] TikTok โ€“ @48cn28

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