One of the more surprising aspects of being the parent of a child with special needs is the reaction — or lack thereof — of close friends: people I believed would be there for us have faded into the background. At the same time, other people — some new and some old — have come forward in remarkable and wondrous ways.
I try not to judge why some long-time friends aren't there now. Perhaps they feel awkward or uncomfortable; perhaps they feel we might need too much; perhaps they're unaware of how much a little help might mean; or perhaps they're just too busy with their own lives and don't think they can take on someone else's problems — each of which is a valid feeling.
Whatever the case, it can be hard to let go of the sting when you realize those old friends are gone, but I take great solace in the fact that some friendships have grown stronger, and some new ones have blossomed to fill any gaps. Many of these new friends get it; they're facing similar challenges. There is no need for awkwardness, since we're in the same boat.
But I would say this to those friends who have faded away: don't. We need you now more than ever. You're a crucial connection to a time before these problems. We want to laugh like we used to and, in return, we'll try our best not to burden you with our woes.