A National survey found that about 12.8% or 9.4 million children in the U.S have special healthcare needs and are present in 20% of U.S households, according to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Raising a child with additional needs is challenging, but it’s also rewarding. Like other parents, special needs parents don’t have a manual to help them choose what’s best for their child’s growth and development.
However, you can adjust your parenting skills to fit the unique needs of your child. After all, your desire as a parent is to be the change in your child’s life. You want to ensure your child becomes independent as they grow. Here are parenting tips for raising children with special needs.
Know Your Child’s Specific Needs
Read journals and research online to learn everything you can about your child’s condition. Don’t be afraid to consult your kid’s therapist, doctor, and teachers to get insights about their unique needs. You want to see things from your child’s perspective to avoid miscommunication and assist with their growth and development.
Understanding your child’s specific needs also helps you to identify potential health risks before they become serious. For example, kids with autism may experience trouble eating, seizures, gastrointestinal infection, or sleeplessness. When you are aware of these symptoms, advocating for your child at home or school becomes easy.
Join a Support Group
While you may find someone else with the same symptoms as your child, that doesn’t mean you’re alone. Some people experience similar challenges and might be willing to answer your questions, share advice, and support. Therefore, consider joining a special needs parent support group in your neighborhood, clinic, or even on social media platforms. Support groups for developmental disabilities like autism, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, share experiences, challenges, and success.
In addition to providing valuable information, support groups create room for parents to vent. Letting out your frustrations without fear of being judged is essential for your wellbeing. Plus, you’ll receive the best advice to deal with difficult situations and self-care tips for your entire family.
Nurture Your Child To Be Independent
Special needs parents often question their children’s ability to live an independent life as they grow older. Though it might sound impossible to some parents, teaching independence to kids with special needs is possible. Start by encouraging them to do things on their own at home. For example, teach them to take responsibility for their laundry and encourage them to do simple chores around the house.
By doing so, you’ll help your child gain self-confidence in making personal decisions. Also, don’t shy away from encouraging your kid to ride in public transportation or run errands with you. Besides enjoying great experiences, your child will feel more comfortable navigating outside the house and in crowded areas.
Parenting children with special needs can be overwhelming. However, you can make your journey as a special needs parent rewarding. Take time to master your child’s unique sensitivities and become a member of a support group. Most importantly, be supportive in every step of your child’s growth and encourage them to be independent.