The parents of special needs children will tell you that raising a son or daughter with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities presents both challenges and unexpected joys.
Overcoming the Shock
If your child has recently been diagnosed with special needs, it's not uncommon to feel like the world has suddenly grinded to a halt. Even if you've been suspecting a problem for several months, having an official diagnosis often leads to a mixture of anger, grief, fear, and confusion.
How do you get past this shock? It's not going to be easy, but remembering the following tips can help:
- Take life one day at a time. If your child is still in diapers, it's too early to worry about life after high school.
- Don't be afraid to express your emotions. If friends and family ask how you're doing, don't hesitate to admit that you're scared and in need of assistance. Asking for support will make parenting much less difficult.
- Make time for yourself. Parenting a special needs child can be overwhelming, but the job is much easier when you don't neglect your own health and well-being. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep will make it easier to deal with the challenges on the road ahead.
Getting the Support You Need
As the parent of a special needs child, you'll need to learn as much as you can about your child's physical, mental, or emotional disability. Ask questions at your child's medical appointments, visit your local library, and conduct your own online research. The best thing you can do for your special needs child is to become an advocate for his/her well-being.If your child is under three years of age, he/she will be eligible for early intervention services. If your child is enrolled in a public school, he/she will be eligible for special education services. To learn more about what resources are available for special needs children in your area, visit the NICHCY's Directory of Resources.
Joining a support group of parents dealing with similar situations can also be helpful. Ask your child's care provider about resources in your area or use the Children's Disability List directory to find a web-based group.
The Joys of Parenting a Special Needs Child
If you child was recently diagnosed with special needs, you may be wondering what your future holds. The poems listed below are popular among the parents of special needs children for their candid portrayal of what it's like to raise a disabled child:
- Welcome to Holland is a poem that is often used to describe how parenting a special needs child provides many unexpected joys.
- Heaven's Very Special Child talks about the many blessings of a special needs child.
- The Special Mother describes how God has a plan for the mothers of special needs children.
Additional Information about Special Needs Children
If you would like to learn more about parenting a special needs child, please check out the following resources:
- The Federation for Children with Special Needs
- Uniquely Gifted
- Special Child
- Our Kids
- Special Needs Adoption
In addition to the websites mentioned above, Amazon.com offers a number of books devoted to the topic of parenting a special needs child. For example:
- Special Kids Need Special Parents: A Resource for Parents of Children with Special Needs by Judith Loseff Lavin
- The Child With Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth by Stanley I. Greenspan, Serena Wieder, and Robin Simons
- Love & Logic Solutions for Kids With Special Needs by David Funk
- The Self-Help Guide for Special Kids and Their Parents by Joan Matthews and James Williams