6 things parents of kids with special needs mustn’t forget

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Parenting is a struggle in itself, caring for someone who cannot care for themself is a monumental task and should not be considered lightly. When specials needs are thrown into the mix, things can get a little hectic. It can be easy to lose sight of what we’re doing and recede into ourselves, slowly cracking under the pressure. This does not need to be the case, many parents have found themselves in the some situations we have and sharing experiences can help the all of us persevere and watch our bundles of joy grow up.

1. There are others

The key thing to remember is that you are not alone. From forums to support groups, there is a plethora of parents in the same boat – share. They might not have faced the exact same problems as you but they will have a pretty good idea and, almost certainly, helpful advice. This exchange of advice and personal stories can lead to lasting friendships and with them, support when you most need it. This will make both sides stronger and more competent to deal with their child’s needs and make sure they end up helathy and happy.

2. It’s ok to give yourself time off

There is no need to give up the entirety of your life for your child. This will end up hurting you and, ultimately, your child. Parents need to remember to give themselves time to recompose themselves, to have fun, to still live their lives. Stress buildup is no good for anyone involved and it’s better to alleviate said stress at regular intervals than to crack under the pressure. Take care of yourself, go out, meet with friends, play video games, whatever helps you unwind and get that “reset” we all need every now and then.

3. You managed the impossible

Do not undervalue yourself. Situations which would drive other parents to the brink are something you have to deal with daily. Remembering medication times, overcoming hurdles together, dealing with tantrums and the like is no small task – all the while keeping your own composure. These strenuous situations require an iron will and the right approach to contain, all the while juggling this with your professional and personal lives. Take the time, take a good long look in the mirror and give yourself a pat on the back. It’s is always going to be difficult, but your efforts mean the world to your child.

4. Therapy isn’t just for your child

Taking your child to therapy isn’t only for them but for us as well. As parents, we get to see which approaches the doctors take in helping our kids engage in activities they would’ve otherwise completely brushed off. This can be a positive learning experience for activities at home while also giving you a front seat view of your child advancing. This feeling of warmth, of seeing them engaged and learning through playing can be a remarkably powerful reminder of why we do it and will motivate us to keep going.

5. Mistakes are okay

Nothing is perfect, neither are we. Mistakes will be made all the time and it is important to remind ourselves that that is okay. We are all human, we err daily, and that’s how we learn. All too often, the right choice will simply escape us or just not be there when we need it. The important thing is not that we made a mistake, that was bound to happen, it’s what we take from that mistake that matters. Beating ourselves up about everything we do will just make things worse and could completely inhibit our ability to care for our children. Forgive yourself and move on, your child will do the same.

6. No one is born knowing

There is no shame in not knowing. Finding out about a child’s special needs is the first step in learning how to deal with them and make sure they are given everything they need. When consulted, Dr Rahul Sen explained that midwives are just as important after birth as they are before. Their professional training gives them the knowledge to help parents with whatever questions they may have and helps them steer greenhorn parents in the right direction. The help is there and readily available, do not be afraid to ask for it.

Don’t lose yourself. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and exhale. Parenting can be the most stressful but also the most rewarding experience any of us will ever experience. The challenges may be great, and opportunities to relieve stress and do others things may be scarce but all we need is look at our child. When we come back home to find our child smiling, laughing and enjoying itself despite everything, making friends – it makes everything we’ve been through worth it.

Article written by Ian Pearson

Nobody's Perfect: Living and Growing With Children Who Have Special Needs offers parents with special needs children a fresh, affirming view on the challenges of family life. Nobody's Perfect guides parents through the process of adaptation with specific strategies for success in balancing one's own life; developing a parenting partnership; and interacting with children, friends, relatives, professionals, and others.

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