Raising a child with special needs is often a challenging journey. When parents learn for the first time that their child has a chronic disease or disability, they tend to experience a range of emotions such as denial, fear, guilt, confusion, powerlessness, disappointment, and rejection. Such emotions are natural for parents since their vision of a perfect child and related dreams and aspirations are shattered. Initially, parents may find themselves to be alone and isolated, as they are not even sure what to do or where to start. However, parents need not lose hope, as the journey can still be rewarding and meaningful. Parents just need to make some adjustments in their lives, provide adequate love, care, and support, and find resources that might help their child with special needs. Here are some tips and suggestions that parents might find useful to raise a child with special needs.
Understand your child’s special needs:
To ensure the best possible support and care for your child, you first have to understand their special needs. The needs are likely to vary depending on the type of disease or disability. For example, if a child has physical disabilities such as vision or hearing impairment, their needs will vary in comparison to that of a child diagnosed with cognitive or learning disabilities. Apart from the suggestions and advice provided by your doctor or medical counselor, you need to work with your child to identify any specific needs that they may have. Not everything can be covered in medical reports since responses to disabilities differ from individual to individual. The learning curve may also vary, with some special needs children displaying a faster learning ability whereas others might take a longer time. If you notice anything peculiar, you can discuss it with a child specialist who will be able to guide you about the next steps on how to address the issue.
Find support groups:
Raising a child with special needs can be a draining and worrying experience. In addition to the everyday chores, you also have to find time for other important things such as doctor’s appointment and therapy sessions. Even moving from one place to another with your child becomes a cumbersome task. You can limit your exhaustion and worries by finding the right support groups in your area. Through these support groups, your child can have the opportunity to meet and interact with other like-minded friends. This will boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem and help them learn to socialize. You will also benefit, as you will get to meet parents who may be sharing similar responsibilities. You can share your stories and learn from the experiences of other parents, something that will relieve a great deal of your anxiety and stress. Support groups can also help you connect with the right volunteers who will be willing to share some of the tasks you may be finding difficult to shoulder.
Find the right school:
You can choose homeschooling for your child with special needs, but a proper school would be a better option. In a school, your child will get to meet various people and the interactions they have will improve their psychological well-being. The right school for your child will be one where your child can feel secure, comforted and accepted. The school will have trained teachers who will know how to tackle the behavioral and communication problems being faced by your child. You can personally visit some of the schools that have academic programs for special needs children. One important aspect to look out for would be the teacher-to-student ratio. With fewer students in the classroom, it would become easier for teachers to take proper care of your child.
Research studies have shown that special needs children face a greater amount of bullying, as compared to other children. Your child can be subjected to bullying at school or by kids in the neighborhood. Kids are too young to understand the implications of their actions, which is why they get into such acts. Special needs children are an easy target, as they have limited abilities to respond to such challenges. You need to make efforts to protect your child from bullying, as it can harm them mentally and emotionally. Bullying is also known to have long-term effects on the victims. If bullying is happening at school, you can talk to the school authorities and ask them to take appropriate action. If neighborhood kids are troubling your child, you can talk to their parents about it. You can also talk to your child and let them know how to deal with bullying. You can encourage them to focus on their strengths and not think about what others may say.
Ensure your child’s financial security:
The cost of raising your child with special needs will continue to rise, as they grow and reach adulthood. It is possible that they may not be able to secure their financial freedom as an adult. You need to be aware of such possibilities and start planning at an early stage. Ensuring your child’s financial security will allow them to live happier lives as an adult. You can choose insurance plans that are designed for the financial security of special needs children. This will be in addition to the help that your child may get from government-sponsored social security programs. You can also think about creating a trust, which will help secure your child’s financial future. A trust will continue to provide financial assistance to your child, even after you may have retired or may no longer be there to help your child.
Raising a child with special needs is an ongoing process and parents need to be patient all throughout. There may be new challenges at every step, but parents can cope with the help of expert advice from counselors, specialized therapy, new discoveries in medical science, innovative education platforms, etc. Parents also need to take care of their own emotional health, something that can be achieved through support groups or forums. It certainly helps when parents know that they are not the only ones facing such challenges. With the right attitude and resources and selfless love and care, parents can always aim for a happy and comfortable life for their child with special needs.