Raising a special needs child is both a rewarding and challenging experience.
Just like any other kind of parenting, there isn’t any manual to help you figure out what will suit your kid and what won’t. From the time they take their first step to when they first join a school, special needs children require attention, love, and care.
Although this journey is not much of an adventure, the twists and turns make parenting interesting and worth waking up to every day.
Here are things that every parent bringing up a special needs kid needs to hear.
Know that you aren’t alone
The first step is to appreciate that you do not have to feel lonely. Ask for help whenever you need it. Understand that you cannot be the best parent to your little angel unless you are at your best. Family and friends come in handy during such times, which is something you may never know unless you try asking for assistance. Also, you can find both physical and online support groups to ease the struggles.
Understand the condition
Learning everything about your kid’s health means that you can identify potential medical complications. That way, you will be in a better position of helping them with their development and advocating for their health at every stage of life.
Several developmental disorders can affect a child’s physical health. For example, kids with autism often have sleeplessness, trouble eating, and gastrointestinal challenges. When you are aware of the predispositions, it is easy to find solutions. For instance, weighted blankets and vests can be used to manage poor sleeping habits.
Play can be therapeutic
Enroll your little one into group activities such as sports, arts, and camps. Doing so will allow them a chance to socialize outside the home setting, which will, in turn, amount to lasting friendships.
Staying active, learning new skills, and exercising is also beneficial to kids with special needs. When kids play with their age mates, they develop essential skills that are necessary both at the developmental stages and later in life. Playing with others helps kids to work in groups, learn compromise, and take up responsibility. Also, building up confidence in social situations translates to personal liberty.
School is often a challenging time, especially for kids with special needs. Take the time to be involved in your child’s school life and keep up with their progress. Ask their teacher what they learned in school and encourage at-home engagement. That way, you will cement the teachings in a way that homework can never achieve. For instance, if they have been taught math, ask them to count fruits in the house, or even their toys.
One of the biggest hurdles that kids with special needs face is the inability of living an independent life. Experts have it that the first step towards living independently is the one that parents take at home. Teach your little bunny to be responsible. Ask them to collect toys when they are done playing and also to clean after themselves.
Making them accountable for their laundry and other chores offer an ideal experience that translates to self-confidence when making personal decisions. It will also encourage them to seek their success. Consider running errands together and using public transport. That way, they will be more comfortable navigating outside the home setting.
Talk to other parents raising special needs kids for tips on how they do it. Whenever you visit the doctor, don’t shy away from asking questions that will enable you to understand the condition better. Before enrolling your little one in a school or playgroup, make sure that you cultivate a personal relationship with the tutor. Talking about your fears and expectations will help ease the tension.
Use visual, auditory and tactile cues
Having the proper signals can make or break a special needs child. Use songs and other audio-visual tools when playing with your child or teaching them something. Whistling, clapping, and singing help children to learn things fast. Tactics such as touching their shoulder or smiling at them draw attention and makes you seem friendly.
Depending on your child’s condition, they may not always communicate what they feel. Special needs kids have different ways of perceiving sensory input. Therefore, they don’t always verbalize discomfort. Appreciate that all behavior is a form of communication. Stay on the lookout for these differences and consider what your child’s behavior is communicating to you. If you aren’t sure what you are seeing, consult a doctor or a special needs kids’ expert.
A positive attitude is an essential trait that all parents require. Considering that your child demands more from you than most parents, it is easy to be overwhelmed and discouraged. You should keep off assumptions and negative thoughts. Avoid people that put you down. Remember that a happy parent = a happy child.
Annabelle Carter Short is a caregiver, writer and seamstress in her free time. When not working, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits. Annabelle likes to make DIY projects with her two kids. She also works with few organizations to provide families with the best resources for raising and educating a special needs child.