Embracing the journey of giving special care for children with special needs, you undoubtedly recognize the obstacles and adaptations your family encounters. While it’s no easy task to care for a child with special needs, you can find solace in the availability of resources and support networks.
Children with special needs struggle with some form of impairment, whether physical, medical, developmental, emotional, behavioral, or psychological. Autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, and dozens of other conditions can all be found in children with special needs. Some medical issues are present at birth, while others manifest themselves later. While some kids are more independent than their peers, others have severe disabilities and require round-the-clock care. Whether a child needs more care because of cognitive impairments, physical impairments, or both can be complex.
The management of medications, treatments, and therapies is just one of many tasks placed on the shoulders of parents of children with special needs. As a result, it may become more challenging to care for the whole family amid already demanding daily schedules. This is especially true when trying to establish a daily routine, as each new day often brings new challenges. Parenting a child with special needs is a difficult but rewarding experience. In times of great difficulty, be kind to yourself. Remember to pause and enjoy these milestones in your lives.
Learning to parent is a process in and of itself, and learning to parent a child with special needs adds another layer. Give yourself a pass when you mess up, and acknowledge your achievements along the way.
Advice for Parents
A child’s uniqueness mirrors that of his or her family. While no parent’s experience will be exactly like their own, there are universally helpful actions you can take to encourage your child’s development. Whether or not your kid has special needs, the following tips can help.
- Each and every kid has unique talents, passions, and interests that deserve praise and encouragement. As a parent, one of my favorite things is encouraging my kids to pursue their passions. Allow your child to explore her interests by participating in various activities. For instance, if you know she has a soft spot for canines, you could read her stories and sing her songs about dogs, teach her the names of various breeds of dogs, have her color pictures of dogs, or even act out puppy antics. Discovering what she enjoys doing will be a boon to her development.
- Although it may be tempting, it’s best not to hold your child up against other kids. Children are all unique and different.
- Constantly give her praise. They thrive on positive reinforcement, and children crave it. Just be sure to be specific when praising the desired action. I really appreciate your patience while I put away the groceries. “I appreciate you trusting me enough to use your words when you did.” You did a fantastic job demonstrating the ensemble you chose for today.
- Try to be gentle with both yourself and her when things go wrong. Always remember that you are just learning and trying your best. Try to remember what didn’t work the last time so you can try something else that might.
- Don’t lose your sense of humor or your optimistic outlook. How their parents deal with adversity serves as a powerful example to their offspring. Maintaining composure and optimism in the face of adversity is challenging, but the lessons you’re imparting will be invaluable.
Tend to Your Own Affairs
Providing care for a child who has unique requirements can be taxing. There is so much to do that it is easy to put off taking care of yourself. Focusing on taking care of yourself will make you feel more rested and patient with others. Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming, but it does necessitate preparation. The following are some suggestions for incorporating wellness into your daily life.
- A healthy diet that includes carbohydrate-rich foods like oatmeal, spinach, sweet potatoes, eggs, bananas, and other fruits is a great way to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
- Maintain a sleep schedule of 7 to 9 hours daily. Maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule, even on the weekends, if at all possible.
- Keep your energy and health up by drinking water often throughout the day. There is no universally accepted guideline for safe alcohol consumption. You should rarely feel thirsty if you drink enough water throughout the day.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily to help you feel better overall. You should be doing aerobic exercises like walking and strength training like lifting weights daily.
- Maintain communication with people who can help you through tough times, such as a close friend or family member, medical professional, or therapist.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself for at least a week. Congratulations on another day of survival, and only think positive thoughts about yourself.
- Record something positive that happened to you or that you accomplished every day.
- Make plans to go somewhere. Taking a stroll through the park is one option, while making dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant is another. Put yourself first for a change.
- Pursue passions that have nothing to do with being a parent or caregiver.
- Read a book, watch a movie, or look into learning a new skill, whatever tickles your fancy. This activity is designed to help you focus on something other than parenting for a little while.
- Even if it’s just a few thoughts jotted down every day, keeping a journal can be a helpful therapeutic practice.
- Whether you do it in the shower, brushing your teeth, or getting dressed, make time every morning to meditate or reflect on what you are grateful for.
- Create a “blessings book” to look back on in the face of adversity.
- Put yourself to the test and commit to helping a cause you feel strongly about. Maintaining your ties to the outside world can be as easy as donating some spare change each week.
Caring for a child with special needs requires a significant investment of one’s own time, resources, and focus, as well as a large support network. Be kind and understanding to yourself and your child, and acknowledge your efforts to overcome daily obstacles. Consult your physician about available support groups and services if you need help making ends meet. Know that you can rely on others to help you out.
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