Raising a Child with Special Needs
Raising a child with special needs takes special strategies. Some of the plans are for your child, and some are for you.
For the special needs child:
Learn as much as you can about your child’s disability.
Try to collect information on
- The disability itself (use for knowing what to expect physically, intellectually, emotionally)
- Best practices in education for the disability (to be an active participant in Section 504/IEP or ARD Meetings)
- Groups that provide support (for finding additional support and reassurance)
Build a support team
You don’t have to attend to all of your child’s special needs on your own.
Most parents rely on a team of medical professionals and school personnel to assist with giving their special needs children the care they need. Your available resources don’t stop there.
Schools are tasked with identifying special needs children and providing educational services for them as early as three years of age, but younger children may also receive support services.
Your team of professionals will do more than assist your child; they’ll help you, too.
For the parent of a special needs child:
Allow time for yourself
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the needs of your child that you forget or forego your own needs. There’s a saying that you can’t pour refreshments into anyone else’s glass until your own pitcher is full.
As much as you want to be there 100% of the time for your child, know that it’s okay to take time for yourself. Schedule a date night with your spouse. Eat out at a restaurant or take a leisurely stroll. Devote some of your time to your hobby. You’ll return refreshed and ready to resume your duties.
Connect with others
Find parents who are experiencing similar challenges in raising a special needs child, or with parents and caregivers of children with the same condition as your child. We are strongest when we connect with others.
Creating a network of understanding and forging relationships that support each other goes a long way toward effective parenting when raising a child with special needs.
Focus on the Rewards
Parents of special needs children learn to celebrate small victories.
Their children’s struggles are unique, and every tiny step is a major milestone. That milestone may be as monumental as learning to read or as simple as feeding oneself, but not one of the successes happen overnight. Along the way, parents learn to enjoy the moment for what it is, hope for the best, and accept their child for who s/he is.
Unconditional love is the greatest reward.
Parents who have the knowledge and reassurances they need can be successful in raising a child with special needs.