Children with special needs are, first and foremost, children, and thus, they share kids’ basic needs: love, acceptance, care, and support and guidance to overcome challenges. Parenting is arguably the most difficult job on earth. However, the emotional toll you pay due to your child’s deficits and excesses can drain you, making it more challenging than raising a non-special needs child.
But you are not alone. The state health department, social services agencies, parents support groups, schools and health insurers are there to support you.
When parents learn for the first time that their child has special needs, strong emotions such as denial, anger, fear and/or guilt take over. This is common and understandable. Parents feel alone and worry that their child will have an unhappy life. However, you need to learn to manage your emotions. Some helpful recommendations are:
- Communicating with others about how you feel.
- Seeking help from family, friends and other parents who have kids with special needs. Do not hide. Do not feel ashamed. Your worst mistake could be isolating and pretending that nothing is going on.
- Learning about children with special needs, effective treatments, and educational and legal rights.
- Taking care of yourself (see previous blogs about Stress Management). It is difficult to help your family and your child if you are stressed, depressed and out of energy. Remember to rest, exercise, eat healthy and relax.
- Seeking counseling if your emotions and responsibilities are overwhelming.
And don’t forget to spend quality time with your child. Be sure to have fun!
Yes, having a child with special needs is challenging. Would you believe me if I tell you it can be rewarding too?
Daniel Adatto, BCBA