Caring for a child is a blessing that comes with challenges for every parent. Accepting your child’s unique abilities is the first step to parenting. In the United States, 7 to 10 out of 100 children require more care than others and are often referred to as children with special needs. These children typically face complex health conditions and need more support to manage physical or intellectual disabilities.
However, your child can flourish under your love and care despite these challenges. Though this journey can be difficult, you are not alone. Here are some tips that can support you.
An in-depth understanding of your child’s medical condition can help you effectively cater to their needs. You should observe your child’s growth and development. The earlier you start, the better. There are some disabilities you cannot detect until later. Monitoring these potential signs from birth can help with prompt identification and provide your child with early care. Pay attention to the following signs:
- Rigid limbs and floppy posture
- Difficulty holding up their head
- No facial expressions for up to 6 months
- Difficulty in learning to sit
- Trouble feeding
- Muscle spasms
- Jerky movements
However, some of these symptoms can also result from a birth injury. If you suspect chances of medical malpractice, you can take legal action to gain justice and compensation. Your child has a right to proper treatment, so you should aim for a reasonable settlement to ensure they receive quality care. Contact trustworthy firms such as Sokolove Law, which has guaranteed over $862 Million for families with children who suffered from a birth injury. These professionals have registered nurses who can provide you with medical awareness and potential treatment options.
Develop a fixed plan
Consistency is crucial for nurturing a child with special needs, as they are highly vulnerable to change. They thrive in predictable routines, which make them feel secure and in control. If your child is on the autism spectrum, they may get overwhelmed when they face unexpected changes and experience emotional distress. In that case, you should ensure they have a fixed schedule and plan for unforeseen situations.
It would be best to list their needs, from stimming toys to medical checkups. Create a visual routine planner and hang it in your child’s room so they know what to expect throughout the day. You can also use this chart to encourage them to do tasks like homework by allocating a specific time. If they have a monthly checkup scheduled, prepare them in advance so they don’t experience any sudden negative emotions.
Connect with support groups
Parenting is a learning curve. You learn new things daily, and it’s okay if you aren’t always perfect. As a parent caring for a differently-abled child, it is common to doubt your caretaking abilities. However, remember that millions of other parents struggle like you. In support groups for parents raising a differently-abled child, there are other parents who have overcome challenges you may be struggling with now. Chatting with them can make you feel understood if you feel alone. By asking for advice from parents who have been in your shoes, you gain much-needed support and confidence to nurture your child.
Besides getting emotional support, joining a support group can help you connect with therapists, doctors, or special education teachers. You can get honest reviews and relevant information from other parents so you can make the best decisions. You can also arrange play dates for your child with other children with the same or similar needs, which can encourage them to socialize.
Create an inclusive environment
An inclusive home environment can build your child’s confidence and promote independence early on. Depending on your child’s condition, you should adapt their environment to support their needs. You can start by updating your home to be more accessible and facilitate your child.
If your kid has trouble while moving, you can add a stair lift to ensure they can easily move in the house. You can also install wall handles or grips in areas like the bathroom where it is easy to slip to increase safety. If your child gets easily overstimulated, you can install noise-reducing barriers in their room. Or, if they are light-sensitive, you can add blinds to the windows to dim the lighting. The ideal environment depends entirely on their condition.
Besides improving accessibility, you should also educate other members of your family. A child’s home environment significantly impacts their personality, so having a family that celebrates and supports them is essential. Start by educating them about your child’s condition. If you have other children, patiently explain to them the needs of their differently-abled siblings through books that can teach them about different disabilities. Promoting awareness in your family can reduce the chances of your child hearing dismissive or hurtful comments about their disability. By building a positive and nurturing environment, your child will learn early on that their unique needs do not define them.
Seek regular assistance
Always keep in touch with professionals like therapists, pediatricians, or teachers to ensure the smooth development of your child. Monitoring your child’s physical and mental health is crucial, as they are twice more likely to develop conditions such as depression, obesity, and diabetes. According to the WHO, they face many health inequalities. It would help if you established continuous contact with health professionals to ensure your child gets the necessary care.
Regarding their education, children with disabilities are 2-3 times likelier to get bullied by their peers. Staying in contact with your child’s school can help you get notified in such cases and can help you take early action. Cooperating with the school administration can also help them facilitate your child.
Raising a child is life’s greatest gift, and you are responsible for nurturing them. You may face unique and complex challenges as a caregiver for a differently-abled kid. However, with a positive mindset, love, and acceptance, you can raise your child to be proud of their differences rather than ashamed of them.