Raising a special needs child can be a huge challenge. Of course, it can also be highly rewarding. As a parent, you should aim to learn everything you can about your child and their challenges, to promote their health, development, and happiness. This means doing lots of research. You’ll need to do plenty of reading, connect with the relevant agencies and associations, talk with other parents of children with special needs, and meet with doctors and specialists. In general, it’s important to seek guidance from those who know about and have experience working with children with special needs but here are a few general tips that can help you adapt better.
Try natural methods of treatment first
While it is common for psychologists to recommend medication to treat ADHD, be aware that medications have side effects that may not work with some children. A multipronged approach utilizing natural methods of treatment for ADHD often yields results without resorting to chemicals.
Take care of yourself
You need to be mentally and physically fit. Get as much support as you can, so that you can support your child. You will also find out that while stigma is often attached to disabilities, empathy comes from people who have been through similar struggles, so stay away from people who don’t understand what you are going through. Join an online support or discussion group and develop friendships with like-minded adults who may or may not be family members.
Enjoy your child
Accept your child for who he is. Maintain open dialogue regularly with teachers, as they are in the best position to see how symptoms are playing out in the classroom. This will help you chart a plan of action to minimize disruption to your child’s day to day life. Be your child’s strongest advocate in his community around family, friends and school and believe in the power of love and positive thinking. How you deal with this challenge sets the stage for your child’s future. When you look back after many years, you want to feel proud of your role in developing the independent, happy, healthy person your child will become.
Don’t let typical parents get you down
It can be hard to hear from parents that their child six months younger than yours is walking and yours isn’t. Or dealing with the well meaning stranger who asks why your 2-year-old is scooting around on their butt rather than being up on their feet. Try to remember that these people lack the context that we are constantly embedded in. Explain, teach, be patient, raise awareness amongst those who just don’t get it. And remember, typical parents deserve the right to brag too and their pride at their child’s accomplishments is not meant to knock you down.
Make time for your marriage
Marriage is hard work, period. Parenting is hard work, period. Parenting a child with special needs, is especially hard work, period! For those of you who are married or in a relationship, make time for that relationship away from your children.