Having a child with special needs is like living in a whole different world sometimes. Every day is different. Some days are challenging and other days are absolutely enchanting. Children with special needs have….well…special needs. They need us to meet them where they are and care for them as an individual. There is no handbook or how-to or list of directions for caring for a child with special needs. Each child develops, explores, grows, learns, and teaches differently. There are however some helpful hints that may be useful in caring for them.
1. Understand the diagnosis. Know what the big words mean. Know the definition, but understand that the definition of the word does not necessarily define your child.
2. Have a support team. Find knowledgeable doctors, family members, and friends who want to walk with you and and your child on your journey. Make sure they are people who are open to learning with you and supporting you in your weak moments as well as in the wonderful moments.
3. Learn from your child. Learn their language, learn their special abilities, learn what they like and dislike, learn how they interact and what different interactions mean. This is a lifelong process because as humans we all change as we grow. Be open to learning, enjoy the journey of getting to constantly learn about your child.
4. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Learn what you do best for your child. Learn where you struggle to meet their needs like socialization, communication, or even just what frustrates you. Admit that you need help meeting those needs and then find ways to meet them.
5. Know that it is okay to admit you need help. Raising children with special needs is not an easy task. You will need help. That is okay. If you need a break once or twice a week, a month, or a year look into respite care where a skilled worker comes out to provide specialized care so that you can take a break. If you need someone to come and sit with your child during or after some of the harder moments so that you can mentally take a breath, ask for help from a family member. Do not try to do this alone.
There are many sites that offer more tips, here is one that may be helpful.