Parenting A Special Needs Child
Expecting a baby is often an exciting and joyous time for a new mom or dad. High hopes and dreams are placed on the future of this new little one. But how might you feel if your doctor tells you that your baby will be born with a birth defect or genetic disease? What happens when you notice behaviors that aren’t typical for your baby’s developmental stage? Will you feel angry? Will you be disappointed? Will you feel grief or guilt?
Everyone has a different way of handling stressful situations. The important thing to remember is that your child is a part of you and will love you and look to you for love, protection, nourishment and guidance.
You may experience various emotions when dealing with a special needs child: Grief- A parent may feel as if they have lost a child. Many parents also grieve the loss of a dream.
- Anger - Anger is a very common reaction. Some parents may even ask “Why does this have to happen to me and my child?”
- Guilt - Oftentimes, parents will blame themselves and wonder if they could have done anything “differently”.
- Confusion - A family may not quite understand what their child’s diagnosis means and/or what they need to do for their child.
- Disappointment - Some parents feel disappointed that their child will not be able to do things that other children can do.
- Overwhelmed - Parents may become overly stressed and experience a feeling of being weighed down with responsibilities.
How do I deal with raising a special needs child?
- Establish a support system.
- Educate your self, family and friends about the disability.
- Discuss your feelings!
- Consider the positive things that your child can do.
- Develop a strong relationship with her pediatrician or any other professional that will be an essential part of her life.
- Ask doctors to explain things in words that you understand.
- Write down any questions that you may have for the doctor before you arrive at your scheduled appointment.
- Remember that this is your child and she loves you.
- Communicate with parents whose children may have the same or similar diagnosis.
- Avoid feeling “sorry” for your child or for yourself.
- Embrace what makes your child special and unique.
- Seek counseling if you have thoughts or feelings that you cannot express to friends or family.
- Establish daily routines with your child to achieve as much “normalcy” as possible.
- Be an advocate and “cheerleader” for your child!
How will I find help for my child?
- Talk with her pediatrician about her physical and emotional needs.
- Search for organizations that have programs designed to fit her needs.
- Join support groups for the extra advice and assurance.
Remember, this “special” child belongs to you! Your parenting journey will be filled with unique challenges, but also with joyful and rewarding experiences! For more information and specific resources in your area, please contact PAL at 1-866-962-3030.