12 Jun Considerations to keep in mind when parenting a child WITH special needs
Reading books, reading online resources and watching videos of children with special needs teaches you a lot but not as much as you can learn being a parent of a child with special needs. Here are a few steps to take when the “Big Announcement” is made.
- Acceptance: It is very important for parents to understand that the child has more needs than a typically developing child and accept it. Many parents are under the denial – making excuses such as; it’s a passing phase, boys are usually slow, the child will outgrow it and on. It is important to understand that there is a problem that requires not just your attention but a professional attention. This helps with
- Early diagnosis
- Early Treatment and intervention services
- Higher outcomes
- Adjustment and changes: Change they say begins with you and this is very true when you are parenting a child with special needs. There is need to change your values and adjust your expectations keeping in mind that everything will take a little longer than the usual.
- It changes your perspectives
- Your plans become more realistic
- Reduces anxiety and pressure
- Enhances your Coping skills
- Observation and monitoring: A close observation and careful monitoring of your child to see how he/she responds to cues, plays, learns, smiles, interacts with other children and how other children interacts with him/her in an ongoing way, gives an understanding of her/his developmental milestones
- This enhances tracking of child’s developmental progress
- Observe potential delays in a child’s development
- Keeping journal with details of child’s development and growth
- It gives you an understanding of his means of communication (audio, visual, sign)
- Enables you to share your observations, concerns with your child’s doctor
- Repetition: Repeating a word or an action will become a major part of your parenting routine which requires a high level of patience. Repetition is also a principle of learning and especially for these children whose learning strategy is in a routine pattern. Though it may be boring and frustrating sometimes, but children thrive on it.
- It helps to clarify concepts to the child
- You become a model of support for your child
- Commitment and consistency become key
- Social skills and interactions: This basically deal with emotions and these children are poor at managing their emotions which often plays out when paired up with other children or taken to public places. However, they do not all need help with the same social skills set because; they each learn at their pace and what one child requires learning could vary from another child depending on her/his age. So, it is important to know the normal developmental skills appropriate and applicable to each child and for different age groups so you can determine where the child needs help. This helps you:
- Not to over-pressure the child
- Not to over-correct the child
- Not comparing the child with another child
- Recognizing his/her individual ability and personality trait
- Behavior disruption: Behavior is a means of communication which is maintained by the response given to it and these children have not learned how to communicate appropriately (either to express themselves or understand what others around them are saying) so most times uses it to communicate their needs or concerns. Studying the child’s trigger, understanding the behavior and learning how to respond to a given situation, helps you to:
- Understand the ABC model of behavior
- Create a plan guide
- Be Consistent
- Understand positive parenting strategies
Partnering with the Professionals: To ensure an Effective partnership with Professionals, an action plan is essential
What situation is this action plan for?
- Dr.’s Appointment
- Therapy Appointment
- Teacher’s Appointment
- IEP Meeting
- Who will be attending?
- What is the reason for the appointment/meeting?
- What do I want to get done at this appointment/meeting?
- What questions do I have?
Parent Notebook – My Child at a Glance.
We cannot over-emphasis the importance of record keeping and when it concerns a child with special needs, it becomes even more of a necessity. I know it is an additional task on an already full plate but once this is set up and follows through, a whole lot of problems can be prevented. Some parents may argue that; since we are in the technological era, we rather adopt the digital approaches, which is believed can streamline record keeping and make your records more useful.
As good as that sounds, we need to consider what happens to our children in the case of any circumstance that might leave him/her with another family member, friend, teacher, caregiver or even a new professional contracted to work with our child who may not have access to your computer.
My child at a glance, tells any first contact everything he/she needs to know about him/her especially when recorded in an organized format. It gives valuable information and details to anyone you are working with including family members. This is designed for easy filing and access to the most important information about your child past, present and future.
Binder Suggested Content
- Binder cover -Insert a photo of your child
- Inside front pocket – current IEP Report (Individual Education Plan)
- Section 1- Child’s Calendar (include all important dates, Professional’s appointments,
- Section 2 – All about the child
- (all important document, in the event of emergency, who do I call? Where do I get help from?)
- Section 3 – Schools Parent Planning Notes, The Individual Education Plan (IEP) (in this section, you keep the last IEP reports
- Section 4- Educational Evaluations and Reports (Therapists’ Reports, Progress Reports, Reviews)
- Section 6 – Diagnosis and Medical Reports including medications
- Any other useful information that might help.
I hope you find this helpful.