Children with disabilities are absolutely wonderful people, but they can also be incredibly difficult for the family that has been blessed with them. They come with their own challenges and a number of other things that may come up as a result of the child's disability. Because this is an important topic, let's take a look at what parents of children with disabilities face and how the family can benefit from a number of different things that will help your family care for and bless the disabled child.
What Challenges Do Parents with Children with Disabilities Face?
As you would expect, there are a number of challenges that parents with children with disabilities may face. Here are just a few of them:
Adapting family life to having a disabled child. This can be really hard, especially if there are other children who are used to the routine that has normally gone on in your life before the arrival of the disabled child. Children may not understand what is going on, or you may have a hard time switching things up in order to make sure that your child is taken care of in a way that is appropriate. It can be really hard to make these changes, especially if you're used to your current lifestyle.
Lack of understanding from people. Some people just don't get children with disabilities, or adults with disabilities for that matter. Some people can be incredibly rude and hurt your feelings or the child's feelings because they just don't get it. People may give you odd looks or ask you questions about "what's wrong with that one?" Some family members may not even try to understand and just blow the whole thing off - this is hard to watch happen to your beloved child.
Not knowing how long the child may survive. With some illnesses and disabilities, this comes up and it's a heartbreaking and frustrating question. You may not know how long your child may survive in the world, because they've just got so much going on health wise and they may not be able to live past a certain age. Of course, on the flip side of that, you may end up worrying about how long they are going to live and what is going to happen after you die - who is going to take care of them? These questions keep some parents of disabled children up at night.
Financial struggles that may occur because of the care needed for the child. Disabled persons need a lot of care, and because of that, financial struggles may come up that you may have never anticipated before. Yes, your health insurance may cover some of it, but what if they don't? There are plenty of resources available, but taking the time to find those resources can be difficult and it can take a lot of time if you can't find appropriate ones. It's a constant uphill battle financially for some people.
Emotional and mental health struggles. You may feel upset or discouraged as a result of having a child with a disability or a mental health problem. You may also feel helpless and hopeless. Some parents will turn to unhealthy behaviors and addictions as a result of working with a child with a disability because they just don't know how to cope with it in a healthy manner. This makes it harder on the rest of the family, as well.
What Can I Do To Make it Easier On Our Family?
There are a lot of things that you can do as the parent of a child with a disability (or any family member, honestly). Here are some ideas that can help you get started on the journey in a healthy and helpful manner.
Be willing to talk to people about what is going on with your family. If you have to talk to people, then go ahead and do it. There are so many people out there who are willing to listen to you and to understand, so you don't have to feel like you are going through the whole thing by yourself. Talk to family members, friends, and co workers who will listen to you about your struggles and help to lift you up instead of putting you down about it.
Don't be afraid to ask for help if help is needed. We all need a couple of days off from time to time. We need some help from family members and loved ones, and if we need that help, we just need to ask for it. Look around for resources that are out there too - sometimes, you can get assistance from organizations that help children like yours, and it won't cause you the financial burden that you are worried about. Getting help can help take the pressure off you.
Try to have a daily routine to make sure that your family adjusts to what is going on. Routines help everyone, and they help your child and the rest of your family feel at ease. By putting a daily routine into play, everyone will know their role and it will be a lot less stressful as well. So put stuff into motion as soon as you can, and you will start to see that there is already a lot of relief going on for everyone in your family.
Take it one day at a time; don't try to plan too far ahead. Sometimes, you just have to look at the now. If you look too far ahead, you may get frustrated or get that feeling of hopelessness that you've had in other situations. By taking it a day at a time, you will find that it is much easier to figure out tasks and move forward, and you won't feel so pressured to get everything done all at the same time. You can get through it, one day at a time.
Always treat children like they are a treasure and not a burden or a trouble. Whether you're looking at your disabled children or not, you want every one of your children to know that they are a treasure. Don't make them feel like they're a trouble or they're in the way - let them know that you love them and that you are taking care of them in a healthy manner. If you do this, they will be more responsive and their mental health and physical health will flourish more.
Consider getting therapeutic help for yourself or other family members, or join a support group that can help you out. Sometimes, you need some help from the outside to get through some of the painful things that may happen. Mental health issues are common for caregivers of those with disabilities - and that's okay. Contact a counselor or therapist and start on your journey, and even if you don't have to go all of the time, having that net can really help.
Take care of yourself, too. This is most important. Don't let your physical, emotional, and mental health struggle because of all the work that you are doing. Make sure that you're getting what you need in all of these areas, and that you're still able to take care of yourself. That way, people won't be worried, you won't be stressed out, those around you won't feel like they're walking on eggshells and everyone will be stronger and better able to get through these struggles.
If you have a child with a disability, there are a number of resources out there that you can look at, receive, and rely on if you need help. There are a lot of things that you can do to help, and there are therapists that can help your family get through the emotional end of things in a healthy way. Check out the resources on the Theravive site to find a therapist in your area that can help you and your family walk this journey together so that everyone, including your child that has the disability, can thrive in a loving and healthy manner.
Office on Women’s Health. (2009, September 22). Illnesses and Disabilities. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/illnesses-disabilities/parenting/parenting-child-with-disability.html
Schneider, K. (2005). But I Didn't Sign Up for This: Parenting a Child with a Disability. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from http://specialchildren.about.com/od/gettingadiagnosis/a/signup.htm
Scott, J. (2012). Parenting a Child With a Disability. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/parenting-child-disability-00000000010773/
Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2013, December). Helping Children with Learning Disabilities. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/learning_disabilities_treatment_help_coping.htm
Women's and Children's Health Network. (2013, November 12). Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - When your child has a disability. Retrieved July 4, 2014, from http://www.cyh.com/healthtopics/healthtopicdetails.aspx?p=114&np=306&id=1635