Receiving a diagnosis that your child has a disability can be overwhelming. As a parent, you realize the impact this will have on your child’s life. It also means that you will have to put in a lot of time and work to give your child the opportunities they need to be successful. But there are many ways for you to provide a positive atmosphere that will help your child to learn and grow.
Become an expert on your child’s condition.
After your child is diagnosed, learn everything you can about their condition and specific health needs. Communicate regularly with doctors and other professionals for advice and support. Make a list of questions before each meeting to get as much information as possible.
Learning from professionals is important, but you also need to conduct your own research regarding your child’s disability. Pay attention to your child’s unique needs. As the parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child has the tools and support they need to learn.
Find a balance between encouragement and discipline.
Every child needs some form of discipline. Allowing your child to misbehave because of a disability is doing them a disservice. In fact, most children with special needs benefit from having structure in their lives. When disciplining your child for misbehavior, be consistent. Use clear, simple messages, then do exactly what you say you are going to do. Otherwise, you are reinforcing negative behavior.
In addition to discipline, make sure you give your child plenty of praise. All children, particularly children with special needs, need validation and encouragement. Pay attention to your child’s strengths instead of only focusing on their limitations. Congratulate them for good behavior, and be optimistic about their ability to achieve goals.
Take a leading role in your child’s education.
Disabilities can make it more difficult for children to benefit from traditional learning, but that doesn’t mean that your child can’t receive a proper education. Communicate with school officials to create an individualized education plan for your child.
You can also play a key role in helping your child learn outside of school. Pay attention to how your child learns so you can create meaningful opportunities for discovery. Some children respond well to visual or auditory cues, while others prefer kinesthetic learning. You might also consider getting a service or emotional support animal. Service dogs of America can help your child learn how to regulate emotions and better function in society.
Get support from family and friends.
Raising a child with special needs is an immense challenge that requires a lot of sacrifice. Initially, you might feel embarrassed to talk about your child’s condition or ask for help. However, getting support from family and friends allows others to share your burden. It will also teach your child that their disability is not something to be ashamed of and that they shouldn’t be afraid to connect with others and ask for help when needed.
Become an advocate for your child.
As a parent, you have the unique opportunity to become an advocate for your child. Learn how to communicate with others to resolve misunderstandings. Speak up and be proactive in getting your child the help they need. Empower your child by helping them to set achievable goals and find ways to be successful, despite their disability.
Have confidence in your ability to help your child.
In addition to caring for your child, you need to take care of yourself as well. You won’t be able to give your child the love and support they need if you are stressed and exhausted. Learn how to share the burden with others and manage your own stress so you can be a better parent. Don’t be afraid to join support groups and share your struggles with others. There are a lot of people in your life who love you and want to help you succeed.
Learning how to care for and interact with a special needs child is difficult. It might feel overwhelming at times. But you can play a major role in overcoming these obstacles. You have the power to be an amazing influence in your child’s life. As you learn how to provide meaningful opportunities for growth, your child will be better equipped to overcome the limitations of their disability and find greater fulfillment in life.