Raising a Disabled Child
You don’t have to be told that raising a child with a disability is hard. It’s one of the most difficult things a parent can do.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a checklist for raising a disabled child?
Unfortunately, there’s no such system for going through and ticking off the boxes of every milestone as you reach them.
Decide on your new normal
When raising a disabled child, only you and your family can determine what normal looks like in your home. That might mean never rearranging the furniture or installing lifts and other equipment. You will also need to consider:
- How will you keep your child safe?
- What will mealtimes look like?
- Who will care for your child’s needs?
- What routines and schedules will you follow?
- How will the school system help to educate your child?
Finding the answers to those questions is something all parents do. Raising a disabled child requires that you prepare a financial strategy, become comfortable asking difficult questions, and commit to caring yourself.
Figure out the financials
Raising a disabled child is more costly than raising one that is not. Raising an autistic child, for example, can cost $60,000 a year. Even if you’re not worried about the cost of raising your special needs child, you will have to plan for his or her future, especially if your child will outlive you.
That may mean taking out a hefty insurance policy on yourself to care for your child when you’re no longer around.
Expand your communication skills
Raising a disabled child requires that you talk with many people with whom you normally would have never spoken.
You may find yourself talking to medical professionals and politicians, as well as caregivers and complete strangers. Parents of disabled children explain their child’s condition or why the child is doing what she’s doing. You, too, will become an advocate for others like her and for the families who love, care for, and support their disabled children.
Care for yourself
You’ll need to preserve your own sanity as well as your ability to respond to your child’s needs and those of the west of the family. It’s okay to pamper yourself, take time to recharge, and ask for help when you need it.
Above all, your life will be different from that of other people. Not wrong, not weird, but different. Like any other parent, you love your child, get frustrated with him, and wonder about his future.
You will work harder and in more unusual ways to get him to that future, but in may be the rewarding experience of your life.