With about six million children requiring special education services, you may very well be the parent of a special needs child. Your journey may be difficult.
How can you be sure you are getting the best care for your child?
Are there programs to help your child that you don’t know about?
What can you do to make yourself feel better during the extra stressful moments?
Here are 8 tips that were offered by special needs parents.
Talk with other special-education parents and create a support group. Share some of the daily challenges. Listen to the issues of the other parents. What can you relate to? Share your thoughts. Offer your advice. This may mean a weekly chat at a local coffee joint, or it could also mean chatting with other parents online. Make your goal to find a time and place where you can express your feelings in a safe environment.
2. Write About It
Keep a journal. Record your child’s successes. Also take the time to write about your own feelings about what’s going on. Often when you put your thoughts to paper, you can gain perspective. Write out an action plan for your child. Include a set of realistic goals that you’d like to see your child accomplish.
3. Alleviate Stress in Creative Ways
Kickbox, dance, do yoga, walk, meditate, sing in the shower, take a cooking class. Research shows that parents of special needs children have more stress than those parents without special-needs children.
4. Be Open
Try new ideas and suggestions. The parents of other special-needs children have a profound interest in their kids. They also each have a unique skill set that they bring to the parent-rearing table. Many of them are up-to-date on the latest research about some of the challenges that your child faces. Remember that information is power. Stay current on issues that affect special needs children.
Show your gratitude toward extraordinary special-education teachers and other professionals. These are the individuals who make it their job to help special-needs children achieve their goals. Keep these lines of communication open. Show your satisfaction when something works well. Talk about moments in the classroom or examining room that are or are not working for you and your child.
6. Don’t Go It Alone
Learning about the issues and topics that affect your child can be as overwhelming as trying to master the concept of geothermal energy. Find help and support from the National Association of Parents with Children in Special Education (NAPCSE). Here you will find information about special education and the law for parents, as well as resources, and a place to ask the experts all your pressing questions.
7. Put Yourself and Your Child Out There
Get involved in school and community programs with your child. Smile at the parents who seem to want to get to know you and your child. Be social and talk to other parents about the common elements of parenting.
8. Don’t Give Up Hope
Parenting a child with special needs can feel isolating and overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to celebrate the small triumphs. Make time to focus on the good stuff.