PARENTING A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Parenting is never an easy thing to do and it is a lot more difficult for parents who have children with special needs. They encounter a lot more challenges every day that might test their patience and self-control as such, they feel more exhausted than typical parents. According to an article published in Boston University’s website, a recent study found that mothers of adolescents and adults with autism had levels of stress hormones that are comparable to that of soldiers in combat (BU Faculty & Staff Assistance Office, 2018).
The typical causes of stress for these parents are:
- Financial problems occurring from frequent clinic visits and therapies for the children
- Fear and worry about the children’s sufferings
- Concerns about the children’s future
- Feeling of resentment as a parent for thoughts of being a bad parent or for doing something wrong which led to your child developing this disability
Parents, though these stressors are valid concerns and though it is your duty to take care and provide for your children, do not let it consume you and forget about taking care of your own personal needs. Good parenting is one that recognizes self-care because you would not be able to take care of your kids if you do not take care of yourself at the same time.
In order to help you navigate the challenges that comes with parenting a child with special needs, here are some advice you might want to consider:
- Reinforce positivity
Avoid comparing your child or yourself to other people because everyone has a different disposition. Look past on what is lacking, learn to recognize what you have, where you are and then do something about it. Having a positive outlook on life makes a lot of difference. Being the one who leads the household, everything you do affects the whole family. Your attitude towards their condition reflects how they will see themselves. If you are someone who reinforces positivity and believes that there is a bright future beyond their disabilities, then they will be encouraged and be confident in themselves.
- Join a support group
Being a parent of a child with special needs, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed and alone. It may be difficult to share your questions and your problems about your child with your friends as they might not be able to relate to the situation. Having a support group is therefore essential as you can share your questions and problems with them because you are in the same boat as everybody else in the group. Having someone or a group to discuss things with and to draw support from is a comforting thought and you can even learn from them through shared experiences. You can join support groups in your community or even online. It is good to be connected with people whom you can relate to.
- Learn more about your child’s condition
Some parents are highly dependent on the doctors’ or therapists’ opinions regarding their child’s condition. There is nothing wrong with that, but their opinions are often generalized and might not be suitable to your child’s current needs. As parents, you should also learn more about their condition because no one knows your children better than you do. It is very important for you to be involved in this matter, not only for your child but also for yourself. Do research, read books and articles related to their condition, go to online groups set up by parents in the similar situation as you. Being educated about the condition allows you to understand your children and the condition better and at the same time, reduces the uncertainty and anxiety.
BU Faculty & Staff Assistance Office. (2018). Parenting Children with Special Needs. Retrieved from www.bu.edu: https://www.bu.edu/fsao/resources/parenting-children-with-special-needs/