Approximately 41 million American children are diagnosed with some type of disability, according to a report from Special Needs Planning. Raising a child with disabilities can be difficult and challenging, but also rewarding at the same time, as it offers an adventure for any parent. Children with special needs tend to need extra care from their first words, learning to walk up until they are ready for school.
Being a parent is already overwhelming, and there is no manual for raising a child living with disabilities. After all, the family must work together as a team and form a formidable support system to ensure they mature into responsible adults.
Know Your Child’s Needs
Understanding the ins and outs of your child’s condition is important, as parents must be able to provide the necessary care that is needed in order for them to develop in a healthy manner. Pediatricians and therapists can only provide so much guidance, and most of the development happens at home when parents are spending time with their child.
Thus, it is important to have constant communication with your pediatrician and keep an eye on developmental milestones: when these are not met, it can indicate previously undetected conditions like cerebral palsy. Monitoring milestones can help your pediatrician effectively graph your child’s development and advise the appropriate treatment or therapy to better improve their condition.
However, these challenges may be overwhelming, especially for new parents. Parents should remind themselves that their child’s improvement starts with proper love and care.
Don’t Be Too Overprotective
Raising a child with special needs can make many parents overprotective of their child due to a fear of being misunderstood by the public. It is completely understandable for parents to feel that way, and they are justified in their actions, but children learn best through experience.
When and if time and maturity permits, parents should give their child room to grow, and give them opportunities to be able to socialize with children their age, as this will help in their development. After all, children must learn how to cope with their disability, and to not be discouraged by their limitations.
Build A Strong Support System
Besides the regular medical check-ups and therapies that may be required, the most improvement a child makes is being around a healthy, supportive environment. At home, members of the family should be working together to make daily lives easier for everyone at home. Raising a child with disabilities is extremely challenging and exhausting, and having family at home can help alleviate some of the stress and difficulties of everyday tasks.
The support can be from the grandparents, siblings, or even close family friends. A combined effort from everyone can help provide a more positive and healthy environment in the household, which can do wonders for improving family bonds.
Welcome family members to discuss what they can do to help if needed. Even the little things such as babysitting, buying medicine, or taking your child to their therapy session can make the world of difference to you as a parent.