Every parent spends their time learning how to support their child as they grow up. Parents of children with disabilities have to learn slightly different skills. Remove any daily stress by reading a few tips about raising children with disabilities that any parent can use to help themselves and their kids.
1. Build a Support System
Sometimes people don’t know anyone else with a disabled child, so they think they’re alone in their positive and challenging moments. Everyone eventually needs a helping hand, so building a support system is essential.
Whether a parent keeps in touch with loved ones through a private Facebook group or group chat, a support system will be there when times get tough.
It’s a safe place to ask questions, celebrate successes and vent frustrations even if no one has walked the same path before. Personal connections make navigating life with a disabled child much easier.
2. Talk With Their Doctors
A child may need more than one doctor to receive a diagnosis or get ongoing treatment. Parents should remember to talk with each doctor about any and all of their existing questions.
It’s also essential to get a second opinion. More information from additionally trained minds means the child is in better hands at home and in a medical office.
3. Research Their Condition
Parents can also research the diagnosed conditions alongside their doctor’s advice and guidance. Guardians should know what to expect as they grow up and how to help their children. It’s also comforting to feel empowered by scientifically proven information or resources.
Researching in your free time could also adjust a parent’s future expectations for the better. If a child’s doctor doesn’t think to bring it up in their short appointment availability, the parent might never know that half of nonverbal children speak fluently in adulthood, even if they aren’t speaking by age four.
A little encouragement goes a long way for parents when facing the unknown with the most precious person in their lives.
4. Consider Home Mobility Modifications
Different disabilities may affect a child’s mobility. Walking, balancing, and retaining control over motor functions are more challenging for some kids than others.
They may hold back from the world if they don’t have the tools to explore it. Home mobility modifications can literally open doors so anything’s possible.
Installations like elevators can make a significant positive difference in a child’s life if they struggle with mobility. Safety features such as handrails and metal gates would create a safer mobility environment than plastic child safety locks.
The child’s doctor or therapist may also recommend specific mobility upgrades. Features like outdoor ramps, automated doors and motion-sensor lights benefit and support a child as they grow.
5. Give Independence Whenever Possible
Although some children rely more heavily on their parents as caretakers, every child must receive independence whenever possible.
Brushing their teeth, picking out their clothes or drinking from a sippy cup are just a few ways disabled kids can experience independence at a young age. They’ll be better prepared later in life if and when they move out on their own.
6. Turn Play Into Therapy
Playtime encourages children to dream and have fun, but it’s also an opportunity to develop fine motor skills. Your child can do the same thing with toys specialized to their developmental abilities.
Magnetic blocks, sandboxes or fidget toys are just a few ways to entertain them while they practice essential skills like hand-eye coordination.
Whether you’re visiting a coastal town or hanging out at home, your child can always be within reach of therapeutic toys that help them as they grow. Add a few to gift list requests so loved ones know which toys are best for birthdays and holidays.
7. Find a Therapist
Parenthood always comes with a few struggles. In between moments when family members create lasting memories, parents may need to seek therapy for themselves. Friends and family are essential forms of support, but they can’t provide the professional help of a therapist.
Research also shows that couples who have a disabled child get divorced 50% of the time due to the many relational challenges that come with parenthood. A trained counselor can provide tools and resources that are more effective when parents feel frustrated, alone or confused.
8. Remember Self-Care Habits
Every person deserves to rest and recover from mental exhaustion. Self-care is an easy way to make that happen. Getting 15 extra minutes of sleep, fueling up with nutritious food or journaling about daily motions are a few ways parents can protect their mental well-being while providing everything their child needs.
Enjoy Every Moment Together
Families prosper when parents and their children get the support and understanding they need to thrive. It’s much easier to enjoy every day together when keeping tips like these in mind.
Building a support system, learning about a recent diagnosis and seeking opportunities for independence are just a few ways parents can help themselves and their children thrive.