10 Ways to Support Children With Special Needs
10 Ways to Support Children With Special Needs
The first step is to pat yourself on the back. You are doing so well. Remember that’s this new for everyone, and we are all in the together. Living with children with disabilities is a challenge. It can get highly overwhelming to parents who continuously think about the child’s physical health, cognitive development and education. Achieving a sense of control will help your child, and you deal with the anxiety. Give yourself and your child some space to breathe, pace yourself and prioritize realistic goals.
1. Save up that energy
Taking care of a child with special needs requires a lot of energy. You may need to juggle meal prep, doctor’s appointments, filling out paperwork, intolerances, meltdowns and allergies. Seventy per cent of your energy is used up here. It can get time consuming and exhausting. Save up all the energy you have, and try not to waste it on strangers’ stares, grandparents’ worries and unnecessary expectations. You know what’s best fo your child!
2.Lots and lots of people
Remember that it takes a village to support children with special needs. Do not hesitate to seek help. There are plenty of resources and services to assist you with your child’s overall development. Every child must have an Individualised Education Program that creates realistic speech, language, communication and literacy goals. Try to follow the IEP plan; you may modify, subtract and add goals when you feel necessary.
Moreover, it is always important for parents to have emotional outlets. Pent up emotions and frustrations can lead to outbursts which create an unhealthy environment for children with disabilities. Therefore parents must take sufficient breaks, have an emotional support family and talk to people who face the same challenges. Hence, the family’s emotional stability will significantly enhance the quality of life.
3.Focus on the Strengths
It can get frustrating when a child doesn’t reach his target goals. This is entirely okay, do not get bogged down by it. Each child has a unique potential. As a parent, you will know what your child can and cannot do. For this purpose, keeping unrealistic expectations for your child will make it difficult for him to climb up the ladder. They may feel like something is weighing them down. Try to focus on their strengths to help them overcome their challenges.
Every child requires to be guided. This is very important to build good habits and behaviours. Don’t sympathize with difficult situations. Children need to learn how to deal with consequences, give them the opportunity to understand their mistakes and work on themselves. If parents do not correct their children, it may hinder their learning process, and they may not understand the difference between good behaviour and bad behaviour. Remember that your child is intelligent! Even when they face difficulties, some have the capability of understanding your actions, and they know how to react or act according to their needs.
Healthy communication binds human beings in all spheres of life. Always talk to your child, and keep them in the loop. Encourage healthy communication behaviours. For instance, crying and screaming are inappropriate examples of communication. Some children resort to this to get what they want. Parents must model an alternative healthier communication behaviour such as requesting and rejecting skills so that children can ask for what they want. Non-verbal children have much to talk about but do not have a solid outlet to express themselves. Speech-language pathologists provide alternative communication opportunities such as pictures, gestures, and facial expressions.
6.Stick to a routine
Children must understand what they are expected to do. For this purpose, a consistent everyday routine can help your child meet demands regularly. It will give parents and children a sense of control. Moreover, children with autism have sensory issues. A change in routine will affect the way they think and frustrate them. Allow children to complete their daily tasks and incorporate new activities when they feel comfortable.
7.Establish a sense of control
A disability is not in your control. You cannot change it or cure it. However, you can live with it. Give your child some responsibility. Allow them to choose their own meals and clothes, make their own routine for the day and encourage your child to explore more hobbies such as music, art and dance. This will give them a sense of control over their lives. Moreover, they learn some of the skills to be independent solid individuals in the long run.
8.Acceptance and Patience
Parents must remember that this is just as hard for their children as for them. Acceptance is the first step, followed by patience. Do not expect quick results from therapy; give yourself and your child enough time to process the information. Children with ADHD can be impulsive, children with autism have difficulty following socially accepted behaviours, and children with learning difficulties have trouble understanding written language. Let your children understand their challenges and face them at their own pace.
9.Number one cheerleader
You are your child’s biggest fan. Appreciating them builds their confidence in ways that you wouldn’t believe. Each ‘clap’ or ‘high-five’ motivates them to achieve more. The most minor step for you, such as waving ‘hi’, maybe the most significant milestone for them. Sometimes, the child might feel like the world pities them, but do not let it get to them. Keep pushing and moving forward. There will be a time when you will look back and realize that your child has achieved so much more than you expected. When that time comes, appreciate yourself.
10.Take care of yourself.
You have to be okay to be able to support your child. One of your priorities should be you. Take care of your physical and mental health, which is important for you and your child. When your child achieves his target goals, reward yourself too. It is essential to do the things you love to do, go out with your friends, get yourself a big scoop of ice cream or watch your favourite TV show. Be as diligent with yourself as you would be with your child.
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