Having a child with medical disabilities can include intimidating tasks that a “typical” child may not demand. However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t care for our children differently. On the contrary, we are more likely to become excited with our special needs child’s development!
Before we list off our top tips for being a parent to a wonderful child with special needs, we’d like to point out that you aren’t alone. The CDC estimates that 17% of children ages 3 to 17 in the US are diagnosed with a developmental disability. This could be anything from a speech disorder, brain disability, or physical disabilities.
Not every child’s condition is the same or will impact the family in the same way. We know you’re aware of your child’s needs and how you should help them on a day-to-day basis – we hope you gather new information from these tips.
1. Remain positive and keep calm
How you feel and what you say is reflected to your children. If your child is getting out of hand and you don’t know how to handle the problem, take a deep breath and remember that you are in charge of the situation. It can be difficult to adhere to the needs of a child with a disability on a day-to-day basis and it can be hard to keep a positive attitude. By staying positive and open-minded, you are allowing your child to see how you are handling a problem. This produces a better understanding of how they should act in the future and helps you in that moment.
2. Find other special needs parents
As we said before, you are not the only one who has a child with special needs. It can be soothing to communicate and share emotions with those who can understand what you’re going through. A support group or a group of parents who also have children with special needs can be a staple in your life. You can either search locally or go to Facebook Groups to find other parents who are experiencing similar chapters in their lives.
3. Take care of yourself
You are always there for your child when they need assistance, and that means spending more time each day to help them. Don’t forget about your own needs. If you are consistently helping your child and are noticing a burnout to either your physical or mental state of health, it could be time to ask for some help. Hire a babysitter with experience in your child’s condition(s), call a family member who has known your child for a long time, or contact a pediatric home healthcare program to provide yourself with a break and your child with the care they need.
4. Get plenty of sleep
Both you and your child should be getting the proper amount of sleep you need. Sleeping rejuvenates our bodies and extends our capacity for handling complex situations. Rest, relax, and get the sleep that the both of you deserve.
5. Find a trustworthy home care nurse
It’s never too late to ask for help. If you’re experiencing burnout, running low on energy, or are finding it difficult to provide your child with the assistance they need, hire a professional. Professional pediatric home care nurses are trained with compassion and experience for your child’s needs. They go through a lot of scenarios and accreditations to be certified to help children with special needs. A local home healthcare facility that sources nothing but the best in the industry will take more stress off of your shoulders than you know.
Find a home care nurse that fits with your schedule and has a deep understanding of your child’s immediate and long-term needs.
6. Keep medical records of your child
Anything from shots, immunizations, surgeries, and doctor’s appointments should be kept on hand just in case. We become so overwhelmed by the medical condition that we forget to make copies or file salient documents. These are very important for your child, not only for diagnosis, but to keep a history of your child’s medical progress.
7. Encourage independence
Yes! Encouraging independence is typically great for children with special needs. All parents want their children to become successful and to thrive in life. Every now and then, give them some space so both of you can have time to yourselves. This can mean staying in the same room but allowing them to be creative and be with their thoughts.
8. Educate yourself on their condition
More and more myths are debunked and new information comes into light. As time passes, we see new discoveries and more research entering the world for various conditions. To better understand your child’s immediate and long-term needs, educate yourself on their condition, symptoms, signs, etc. Try to understand everything you can about it so you can connect with your child and help them through life.
9. Appreciate the little things
You must take each day at a time and live in the moment. If your child has a speech disorder and they are making progress, congratulate them! If they were never able to open the door themselves and today was their first time, then enjoy the moment. You can smile and appreciate all the things that do occur right as they happen, both big and small.
Entertain the thought that life is full of surprises and your child was one of the best! Though they may have conditions that change your life unexpectedly, each and every day is a new opportunity for growth and is a blessing.
We care for the happiness and health of both your child and yourself. Our staff of specially trained nurses and caregivers are at the ready to help you and your family no matter the condition of your child. If you are needing a break or can’t handle everything that life has thrown your way, contact one of our Colorado locations to alleviate your stress and help your child.
If there are any tips that we missed or those that you would like to share with us, please message us!