Parenting a child with special needs can be extremely challenging, particularly after the initial diagnosis. The uncertainty, agony, helplessness upon a child diagnosed to have any kind of special need can alter a parents quality life forever. The confusion over plenty of information available on virtual world, the contradictions of strategies proposed by exponents in the field, lack of knowledge of the parents about challenges of special needs in depth, mostly makes the initial months or years stormy. The focus of this journey centres around a “cure” for the child, not being aware that special needs is not a disease that can be cured. They are different, as all of us are different from each other. Their differences are centred around a pattern of characteristics and as per the pattern we label them as autism, intellectual disability, down’s syndrome, celebral palsy, ADHD and so on. In reality, a labelling doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose apart from scientifically understanding the characteristic pattern of special needs and there by planning the management process systematically. Every child with special needs is different, each of them different strengths and limitations. Hence it calls for individualised management plan for each child with special needs.
As parents are the constant companions for a child and also the decision makers, it’s extremely important for the parents to understand special needs with a lot of clarity. It’s important to understand the management requirements and accordingly choose the management options available around.
Hereby I would like to highlight the areas that a basic parental training comprises:
Understanding the special need condition
Understanding the reason: Why it happened to my child?
Understanding the future: What to expect? Having a reality orientation
Understanding the management process of your child:
Whom to connect and how to connect to have a diagnosis and overview
Need of special education or inclusive education
Need of therapies like occupational therapy, speech and communication therapy, physiotherapy, creative art therapy and so one
Need of Pharmacological intervention, if any
Need of physical aids, if any
Finding the right healthcare team for your child
5. Understanding the support needed for parents, caregivers and family members
Dealing with parental stress
Joining support groups
Clarity on another child planning
Securing future of the child
Tips for Parents:
Do not feel that you are alone in this journey.
Choose the right help for your child.
Do not fall for traps. Promises of curing and correcting the special need conditions are usually fake.
Don’t go for very expensive management process from the very beginning. Understand the condition, have opinions from two or three educated professionals and then decide realistically.
It’s very natural to feel overwhelmed and looking forward to quick fixes when it’s about your child. Do your best to maintain rationality.