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8 tips for parenting a child with special needs

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Raising a child is difficult enough, especially for new or single parents. However, it’s a different story when you need to raise a child with special needs, as they require more care and attention, especially in their formative years, where they learn more quickly than at any other stage.

Being there for your child’s emotional and physical needs is sometimes all you can do, and it might become frustrating as a parent to watch your child in pain or discomfort of any kind because of their condition. Having a child with special needs is very stressful for parents, and the financial burden that comes with raising a child with special needs is even more stressful. Sometimes, one parent needs to sacrifice their career to take care of their children resulting in a loss of income for the family.

This article will help you gain new ideas for assisting your child with special needs. Following these tips will make life easier for you and your child. You can even customize these tips according to your child’s needs.

1. Taking appropriate action:

A careless mistake from a doctor can result in lifelong defects in children. As in the case of Erb’s Palsy, medical negligence can cause the child to become disabled and lose motion in their arms. This weakness in their arms is due to severe damage to the nerves surrounding the shoulder. The disability is preventable if the doctor or medical staff is more careful while delivering a baby. 

The therapy, medications, and surgeries required to treat Erb’s Palsy are costly. Families receive compensation for the distress the disability has caused their child and family. The compensation received is enough to ensure that the child does not have to worry about future expenses. Some compensation examples include:

  • A family in Florida received a settlement for $1.2million 
  • A family from Washington received a settlement for $750,000
  • And a family from South Carolina received a settlement for $1.3 million

The compensation received by each family is different because it depends on the severity of the child’s injury to determine how much your child’s care will cost in the future. It will help your child receive the money they need and the care they deserve for the future. The parents are responsible for finding an experienced birth injury lawyer who will guide them through filing a claim and gathering the proper documents to show in court.

2. Planning ahead:

Planning is a great way to reduce stress for you and your child and avoid painful meltdowns. Many children who experience sensory overload issues cannot tolerate loud sounds or flashing lights. They might also feel uncomfortable in large, crowded areas, making it hard for them to stay in one place for long periods. For such kids, parents should take the following steps to reduce their anxiety:

  • Investing in a good pair of headphones can make your child’s experience in crowded places less stressful and chaotic. It can make going to places with loud noises more bearable, and the child does not get his senses overloaded, which can result in temper tantrums. 
  • Bright lights, sunlight, and flashing lights are overwhelming for a child with visual sensitivities. So, using lamps instead of overhead fluorescent lights, low-voltage light bulbs, and tinted glasses will help ease your children’s senses and allow them to cope with their environment better. Also, teaching your child at an early age to look down at the ground or cover their eyes with their hands is a great strategy to use when you cannot alter their environment. 
  • Calling ahead of events or places and asking if they make accommodations for children with special needs is a great way to avoid the hassle and temper tantrums that can be thrown, waiting in long lines for rides, or going to a show to watch a performance or movie. It can make the experience more worthwhile for the child and the parent. Many places nowadays have become more inclusive and have started offering even more facilities and accommodating requests per the child’s needs.  

3. Use Fidget toys:

Distracting the child with easy-to-handle and safe-to-use fidget spinners or fidget toys/gadgets can be a game changer for parents who want to keep their child entertained while they take a break and wind down. 

Fidget toys have been shown to improve children’s concentration by helping their brains to focus on the task in front of them while their hands have something to do. 

Kids and adults on the autism spectrum make great use of fidget toys as it helps them with sensory processing to either increase or decrease stimuli. Fidgeting is a way to use movement to help concentrate. It can also help with nervous energy. (source)

4. Teach your child breathing exercises:

Special needs children, especially those with Sensory Processing Disorders and Autism, greatly benefit from deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing increases oxygen intake helping to “wake up” the brain. It helps reduce anxiety and stress by calming down the nerves, enabling healthier sleep patterns, and reducing fatigue.

Talk to your doctor or therapist to suggest breathing exercises your child can do when anxious. Many techniques are available on the internet, but it is better to get a professional opinion before performing them. Going through the exercises multiple times can help embed them in your child’s mind so they can use this breathing technique without assistance whenever they need to calm down.

5. Help your child familiarize themselves with new things:

A child with special needs is more comfortable in situations that feel familiar. Showing your kids a video or picture of the places you are visiting or the performances you will be watching can help your child familiarize themself with the situation beforehand. This practice goes a long way, as the child will know what to expect and will not be as distressed when they reach that place or situation. It’s a great way to introduce your child to new things and experiences.

6. Become an expert on your child’s condition:

Becoming an expert on your child’s condition can benefit you in the long run. As technology advances, it is easy to determine if your child will be born with a disability, such as Down Syndrome. So, the parents must make necessary arrangements beforehand as they might not have the time to do that after the child is born. Reading journals and articles and talking with specialists about your child’s condition will make it easier for you to handle any situation that may arise. 

Keeping up to date with your child’s rights is crucial if you do not want to get scammed. Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is a law that makes sure all eligible children with disabilities receive free public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. 

Become your child’s best advocate. It is your right as a parent to know the ins and outs of your child’s problems. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions from your doctors about your child’s condition. Work with a therapist to learn how to deal with a special needs child.

7. Make the child independent:

Teach your child to speak openly about their disabilities and needs. It allows them to learn to stand up for themselves, paving the way to a successful and brighter future. Teach your child to speak openly about their disabilities and needs. It allows them to learn to stand up for themselves, paving the way to a successful and brighter future. 

Working with your child daily can help strengthen their communication skills. Introducing self-care activities in your child’s daily routines as early as possible allows your child to master them down the line. Working with your kids on household chores can teach them responsibility. As safety is a big concern for families, especially when their child is disabled, teaching safe travel practices and having your child carry an identification card with them at all times is necessary. Teaching them step by step is the key to successfully introducing them to the real world.

8. Take time out for yourself

Having a special needs child can be exhausting, lonely, and even intimidating. But don’t let your child’s needs isolate you, find special-needs support groups where you can make new friends and share challenges. 

Take time out for yourself for your emotional and physical well-being. Allow yourself to take a break and recuperate, as mental exhaustion can be frustrating. Not only will you be re-energized to resume your activities the next day, but you will be a lot less stressed than before.

Conclusion:

The emotional, mental, physical, and financial impact of caring for a special needs child can be overwhelming. Parents with special needs children are frequently depressed due to the immense pressure to take care of them. 

The tips and tricks mentioned in this article will help alleviate some of the stress you feel. Most parents join special-needs support groups to learn from more experienced parents and have someone to talk to who understands what they are going through. 

Know that you are not alone and that there are many people with children similar to yours whose disability can make it difficult for them to make friends or do simple everyday tasks. It is hard for parents to watch their children suffer, so try your best to help your child lead a crazy, wonderful life.

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