Nearly three million children in the US have some form of disability. As nature finds some sort of balance with individuals who face certain shortcomings, the term more commonly used for disabled people is differently-abled. Being a parent to a differently-abled child can be challenging and may confuse some people. However, it is nothing to panic about.
The first and most important thing to realize is that you are not alone. There are specialized disability services for assisting differently-abled children and support groups of similar parents that can offer helpful advice and support during tough times. It is important to ensure you take advantage of every available resource at your disposal to provide the best possible care and upbringing to your kid.
Here are a few tips that can help you do just that:
1. Study and understand what the diagnosis is:
What is the disability that your kid has? What are the symptoms that it causes? A crucial aspect to consider and question to ask is whether the disability was natural or was caused by a medical error by a nurse or physician. If the latter is true, you can consult cerebral palsy lawyers to sue the relevant individual or authorities for due compensation.
In case the disability is something that occurred naturally, you must spend as much time as possible researching, taking notes, asking questions, and reading about the condition that your kid has. The doctor overseeing your child is the best possible source for all this information because while the internet is awash with knowledge, not all of it can be trusted or verified.
Here are some of the questions that you need to ask yourself and research about:
- What are the complications, side effects, and symptoms that come along with the prognosis?
- How will the child’s condition impact their capability to look after themselves, and how will it influence their normal development?
- What are the available treatments for the condition and whether they are mainstream or still in a trial phase? Also, it is important to know whether the treatment is covered by insurance or not.
- Are there any pieces of equipment that you need to invest in to facilitate your child to perform certain daily activities?
- Which treatment options and medicines can make the kid’s life more manageable and comfortable?
- Are there any changes you need to make to your home and daily routines that can benefit the child?
One of the best ways to test your comprehension of the condition is to try and describe it to yourself as if you are a young child. You might not fully understand the diagnosis if you can’t reduce it to its most basic components. Furthermore, a lot of kids frequently have multiple diagnoses. Ensure you comprehend each one, including any potential effects or interactions.
2. Designate a caregiving leader besides yourself:
You and your spouse will not always be the ones providing care for your child. This is why it is important to designate someone as the caregiving leader. Think of yourselves as a team with a capable professional as the lead. Naturally, this makes the physician, pediatrician, and therapist the caregiving leader.
Once you know who this leader is, find a continuously open line of communication with them. This medium needs to be active throughout the day since you don’t know when you will need them. They will also need to be available to assess the care being given, review tests and administer relevant medications.
You and your spouse remain the primary caregiver even if the team lead is a professional. Therefore, you will need to ensure you are in a commanding position to take instructions and implement them carefully. Also, mention to the physician or healthcare provider that you are designating them as the leader.
3. Know what your child’s special needs are:
Understanding your child’s diagnosis is not the same as knowing their needs. Comprehension of why they act and look a certain way is not the same as being well-versed in how to assist them. What are the main problems your child is dealing with, you should ask yourself. You may have researched the condition extensively, but that doesn’t necessarily give you the competence to handle your kid’s needs effectively.
Their special needs may show out in a variety of ways, including trouble adjusting to routine changes, aversion to physical contact, distaste for high-pitched sounds, demand for additional time during classes, difficulty doing specific physical tasks, and more.
Regardless of their diagnosis, knowing their needs can enable you and everyone else with whom you and your kid interact to comprehend the special difficulties they encounter.
4. Play to your strengths:
As a parent to a differently-abled child, you will find yourself in a tough situation. At the end of the day, you are human too, and you will inevitably feel worn out, frustrated, and unable to go any further. Often, this is a point of no return for parents, so it is important to play to your strengths from the start. Don’t tire yourself too much by doing everything yourself.
As a parent, you will have different abilities and strengths when caring for a differently-abled child. You may be better at speech therapy than your spouse, or your ability to creatively craft exercises for improving motor skills may be better. Either way, knowing what you are good at and how well you can manage within that field is important.
5. Never assume that you have to do it all alone:
Going back to the point in the introduction, you don’t even have to assume that you are in it alone. You can always find assistance from time to time with various specialized care providers that are readily available out there.
For the instances where you find yourself struggling with certain things, you can always turn to support groups that involve people with similar situations sharing their feelings, success, and various other tips that can help you navigate the process much more effectively.
Raising a differently-abled child is a demanding task, but given your responsibility as a parent, you need to do your best. As testing and challenging as it may be, you need to ensure you are prepared as well as primed in every possible way to handle whatever comes your way without breaking down.