Special needs children: Tips for managing better
Children with Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Neurological disorders, Sensory impairment, Learning disabilities and Cerebral Palsy need extra attention; care and therapies which help them become independent and responsible adults.
Many such children are very talented and have excelled in life. Initially, it can be very challenging for parents, but with little communications, trust and understanding the bond between parents and child with special needs grow stronger. Parents are most close to their kids and they understand their kids best. We are sharing some tips in this blog to handle the situation better.
Communicate with respect- It is important to make conversation & interaction with a special needs child politely and tactfully. Asking innumerable questions by strangers should be avoided at first. Make suitable eye contact to the kid and introduce yourself to the child if, you are a stranger to him. If, child is not able to comprehend answers in sentences, just observe them, pay attention to body languages closely. If, the child shows hesitancy in answering towards certain topics, they must not be pushed. A child should be treated respectfully in same manner as we treat adults.
Communication may be non- verbal too. Tactile sensation (like touch on shoulder or hand), auditory sensations like (using special sounds), Visual cues (like pictures, photos, colours) can also be used depending on each case.
Adjust to child’s needs- All kids need undue amount of patience from adults while growing up. This becomes more when it comes to special kids. They need to be handled with great composure, patient and self-control. Be flexible and adjust things according to their needs. This becomes even crucial when you are training them for new activities or skills. Let them learn at their own pace. Sometimes while learning new skills, kids get anxious and want parents with them. Let parents stay at their vicinity if, it makes kids feel less vulnerable and unsafe. Let them feel secure first and slowly things can be adjusted as they get more and more comfortable with their instructors.
Do not let them feel different- Allow kids with special needs equal opportunities. Make it clear to them that there are rules for them as well and they need to follow them. Provide extra support whenever and wherever they need them. Remind the child of the rules gently again and again till, they are used to it.
Take help from professionals- People with meticulous training and track record of nurturing kids with special needs are a blessings for special needs kids. Never shy away in lending a professional hand whenever you feel roadblock.
Be positive with the child always- Children easily pick on adult’s fears, desperations, negative thoughts and disappointments. It does no good to them and they feel like failures and letdowns to their parents. Always be positive in front of kids and be happy. Complement the child and praise them for their efforts.
Value their abilities: Each child is unique and has different abilities. Do not rush your kid if, she or he is uncomfortable with something. Try to make things interesting from their view point, which will attract their attention for longer time. In kids with ADHD, thinking out of box to engage the child is important. Have lots of fun with your kid while teaching him simple things like wearing clothes by himself, packing a simple lunch, reading a book, etc.
Set correct mindset in kid from the start only- Teach them to ignore negative comments of society and how to block negative people from life. Teach them about challenges, to face them and learn from the mistakes. Make them understand that trying again and again is very important and they should not shy away from them. Reward them for their trying. Rewards need not be in terms of money. They can be simple suprises or a visit to park or zoo. Praise them whenever they try with or without success. Use positive and encouraging words always. Always set realistic goals as per their conditions. Let them know they are loved unconditionally.
If, child wants to be more and independent, let them be. Do not do everything for them. Let them grow as responsible adults. Be careful in presence of any dangerous situations or limitations which can be back setting for them. Let them have some sense of control over the things to feel confident.
Seek financial assistance if, required- Special programs and therapies need skilled trainers with specially equipped centers which unfortunately are not cheap or plenty. Hence, along with program cost, travelling costs also adds up. If, you need any financial help, there are many NGOs and institutions for lending a helping hand. Also know your rights. If your government is giving some schemes for special needs children, avail them.
Stay informed- Read books and articles on the child’s condition. Talk to the doctors about what to expect and how to help. Being prepared makes you less anxious and better focused.
Look out for yourself too- Any parenting is demanding, but, parenting a kid with special needs can be further taxing. You need to take breaks, when you feel the heat. We tend to say or do the things when extremely exhausted, which we regret later. In this pandemic time, with many therapy centers closed or going virtual; this can be more troublesome for parents.
If, you feel overwhelmed just take a deep breath and a short break. Take small walks in nearest parks. Engage in some hobbies. Chat with friends. Be a member of social groups of same parent circle; who are sailing in the same boat. It helps in better dealing with stress, negativity and generates new ideas. Take care of your body too. Eat and rest well. Engage in meditation and relaxation techniques.
With love, care and patience; parenting and growing up can be fun and life enriching experience for both parents and special need kids.