Raising a Child with a Disability? Things You Need to Do and Hear

Life is different when you are parenting a child with special needs. Routine things like dining out with friends, grocery shopping, and getting ready in the morning that once felt like second nature are now arduous tasks that require extra planning. You might constantly be worried about what if’s swarming around your head.

What if my child has a seizure in public?

What if we can’t find a trained babysitter?

What if someone inconsiderately says something hurtful to my child?

These are all genuine concerns that you might feel bogged down by daily. But they shouldn’t stop you from living your life to the fullest. With enough knowledge, dedication, and support, you can pull through and give your child the best life possible.

Know What You’re Dealing With:

There are several different disabilities out there, and each one comes with its own set of challenges. You must familiarize yourself with your child’s condition to better understand how to manage it or seek legal help if available.

For example, cerebral palsy is a common disability that can cause physical and cognitive impairments. So, if your child has cerebral palsy, you should learn about the common symptoms and available treatments. It will help you better understand your child’s needs and how to best support them. If you feel there’s medical negligence involved in your child’s case, you might want to reach out to a lawyer for help. There have been many successful cerebral palsy lawsuits in the past, so chances are you might be able to get compensation to help with your child’s care.

Your Child is Still the Same:

You must never forget that underneath it all, your child is still the same person they were before their diagnosis. They might have some new challenges and roadblocks, but they still have the same sparkling eyes and mischievous smiles.

Certain conditions like autism or Down syndrome might cause them to communicate and express their emotions differently, but that doesn’t define them as a person. They are still capable of forming beautiful relationships, experiencing love and happiness, and leading fulfilling lives. As a parent, you must empower them to reach their full potential despite their challenges. Allow them to be as independent as possible, give them a voice, and help them find their niche in the world.

Start Building Your Support System:

Even if you wear a secret superhero cape beneath your clothes, you’re not meant to do this alone. It’s perfectly normal and healthy to seek support from other parents in similar situations.

You can find support groups online or in your community. These groups will be your safe space to vent about your challenges, share advice and stories, and build relationships with people who understand what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it. You might even learn new ways to deal with behavioral issues, feeding problems, or doctor’s appointments. If you’re not comfortable opening up to strangers, that’s okay, too. Lean on your partner, close friends, and family members for support.

You Deserve Some Me Time:

You might feel like you’re running on empty when you’re in the thick of it. It’s important to realize that you need to take care of yourself, too. Prioritize your sleep when needed, feed your body essential vitamins and minerals, and give yourself some time to relax.

Whether that means scheduling a regular massage appointment or taking five minutes to sit in silence with a cup of tea, do what you need to do to recharge. You can’t pour from an empty cup, after all. And while you’re putting yourself first in line, don’t feel guilty about it. You’re not selfish – you’re ensuring you have the energy and resources to take care of your child.

Therapy Time is Play Time:

If your child is receiving therapy, that doesn’t mean they’re not allowed to have fun. Playtime is an essential part of the therapeutic process.

Through play, children can develop social skills, practice using their motor skills, and learn how to cope with emotions. You must find a balance between structured activities and free play so your child can explore and express themselves differently. And don’t forget – you can have fun, too! Get down on the floor and join in on the action. You and your child will both enjoy spending quality time with each other while reaping the benefits of therapy.

And remember, not every therapist is a good fit for your family. If you’re not happy with the care your child is receiving, don’t hesitate to reach out to other professionals.

Not All Decisions You Make Will be Easy:

As a parent, you want nothing more than to protect your child and keep them safe. But sometimes, the best you can do for them is to let them experience life – even if that means making tough decisions.

For example, you might need to allow them to fail sometimes or get hurt so they can learn from their mistakes and understand how to deal with pain. And you might need to have difficult conversations with them about their future.

It won’t be easy, but it’s important to remember that your child can make their own decisions. They might not always be the best ones, but they’ll learn and grow with them. So, please step back and let them take the lead sometimes.

Keep the Mood Light:

It’s not stardust and rainbows all the time, but it’s important to keep the mood light as much as possible. Laughter is essential in every family, especially when things are tough.

So, crack some jokes, tell silly stories, and enjoy each other’s company. It might not seem so, but these moments will be some of the most precious ones you’ll ever have.

Plus, you will be inculcating in your children the importance of laughter and how it can help them get through tough times. And that’s a valuable lesson indeed.

We also highly encourage celebrating the little achievements along the way. It could be anything as simple as your child trying a new food or taking their first steps. No matter how small it is, it’s worth celebrating.

Final Thoughts:

Raising a child with a disability is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be bright days and gloomy days, ups and downs. But as long as you’re there for your child, they’ll overcome anything that comes their way.

So, take things one day at a time – or even one moment at a time, if that’s all you can manage. And don’t forget to reach out for help when you need it. You’re not alone in this journey.