Special Needs Child- H&S Education & Parenting
Handling A Child With Special Needs?
The term ‘special needs’ is an umbrella term to describe children with disabilities that may be medical, mental and/or psychological & require assistance for these disabilities. This covers developmental delays, medical conditions, psychiatric conditions and congenital conditions. The disabilities can range from children with autism, chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyspraxia etc., physical abnormalities such as blindness or deafness, missing limbs or cleft lip/palate & other medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis etc.
The severity of the case determines the type of special needs assistance needed for that particular child. Usually, a child with an IQ between 20-35 is considered a severe case and require assistance in school as well as home.
In the UK, the term ‘special needs’ is synonymous with ‘special needs education’ that is actually referring to special needs within an educational context.
This terminology can help you set the required goals and help you understand your child better thus enabling you as the parent to get the best-suited services to help your child reach their potentials. Apart from schools with special needs teachers, there are special needs schools established just for these children, for example, for the blind, deaf, intellectually disabled etc.
How To Overcome Challenges?
Usually, it’s all about the things a child can’t do as supposed to can, for example, can’t reach the desired milestones, can’t do certain activities, can’t eat certain foods, etc. This can sometimes take a toll on the parents of a special needs child causing stress and making the parent difficult to accept and cope with. The best advice for parents who have a child with special needs is to not harp on the weaknesses but rather focus on the child’s strengths and positives. This way as a parent it is less stressful and makes a more productive and thriving environment for the child.
Guilt & blame are the two things some parents can also go through but it’s important to stay positive and if needed consult with a counsellor who can help you see things positively.
Remember every parent who has a special needs child will tell you they have some concern or the other but their anxieties will be different. For example, a parent who has a physically disabled child will have different concerns to a parent with a child who is mentally disabled. Every parent needs to understand that the term ‘special needs’ is vast and every situation is different and unique & the only common concerns that link parents are getting the appropriate help and care & promoting acceptance within not just the family but the society at large.
Know that you are not alone and that it is okay to reach out for support and help. Also, understand that as a parent of a child with special needs there are a lot of positives too, that it will make you more resilient, compassionate and flexible than perhaps compared to other parents.
What Every Parent Of Special Needs Child Must Have:
1. More Time Please – As it is for any normal parent, a parent struggles to find enough time and complains that he/she struggles for some ‘me’ time. Now, for a special needs parent, this can be easily magnified 10 times. Not to forget they have doctors visits, therapy appointments etc to factor in their already busy parenting schedule. It’s a no-brainer that it’s important to prepare and plan your day in such a way so that you can get most of the things covered in that 24 hours span.
2. More Patience Please – Any normal parent will tell you how they sometimes just don’t want to deal with their child as they run out of patience. Unfortunately for a special needs parent, they have no option. They need to be extra patient and calm at all times and need to use the approach ‘handle with care’.
3. Group Support – It’s extremely important to have this so that you are allowed to vent and live a healthy mental life. Raising a child with special needs is extremely challenging and it can be emotionally draining as well. It’s therefore important to join a support group to get the encouragement and care that you as parent need.
4. More Money Please – In most situations, when both the parents are working it suffices to live a comfortable life. However, unfortunately, with a special needs child, the costs can be bizarre. You need to factor in therapy and medical costs as well as sometimes special equipment that may be essential. It’s always a good idea to plan yourself accordingly to make sure you can do everything in your power to support your child. It’s also advisable to get insurances etc so that some of the costs can be covered & cut down on unnecessary luxuries to make up for it.
5. Reassurance – Know that guilt and blame won’t help. It is not your or the child’s fault and that you have no reason to doubt yourself that you aren’t doing everything you can to help your child and improve his/her chances in life. For this reason, it’s a good idea to also join a support group and even talk to a close friend or family member, just to help you know that you are doing all the right things.
6. Healthy Lifestyle – Adequate nutrition and exercise should be a part of your daily routine. Why? Because it’s important you have all the energy and strength to help you get through the day. It’s also a good stress reliever and the best self-care tonic to boost your mental health as well as your immunity & physical health. Remember, a sick parent can’t be of any help to a child with special needs.