When your child is diagnosed with a developmental disability, you may feel overwhelmed. Maybe you’re wondering how to best support them in their development, or what exactly that diagnosis means for them and your family. Parenting is hard, but when your child has special needs, it can be even harder. There’s no magic bullet for raising a child with a disability, but there are some general things you can do to show up for them. Here are some important tips:
1. Be their advocate in school settings.
As a parent of a child with special needs, you know that there are many obstacles your child faces. At school and at home, it can be difficult to get the help they need when they need it.
Being an advocate for your child means speaking up on their behalf when they don’t have the words to do so themselves. If your child could benefit from any special accommodation (such as extra time to take a test) or if you need more information about why something happened, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for just that.
You may be afraid that asking for help makes you look weak or incapable of caring for your child yourself — but this isn’t true! Ask questions and ask often – don’t let anyone silence you. You know how important it is for your child to receive care from a qualified professional who understands his/her specific needs better than anyone else.
2. Be kind and patient.
The best way to support your child is to be kind and patient. Being kind means treating the person with respect, even when they don’t seem like they’re treating you with respect. It also means being sympathetic towards their situation, and understanding that it might not be easy for them to do what you ask them to do or say what you want them to say.
Being patient means being willing to give them the time they need to process what’s going on and figure out how they feel about it. It also means being understanding when they make mistakes, and not getting angry with them when things don’t go the way you want them to.
This matters because it’s important to be kind and patient with your child in order to help them feel comfortable and supported. When you’re kind and patient with your child, they feel like they can trust you and that you’re there for them. This helps them feel secure, which is an important part of their emotional development.
3. Encourage independence.
The most important thing you can do for your child with a disability is to give them the chance to be independent. Letting your child make their own mistakes, try new things, and make choices will help them learn how to navigate life on their own. They may not always get it right, but they will learn what works best for them over time.
It’s also important for your child to have friends who understand their disability so that they don’t feel like there is something wrong with themselves or different about them from other people in the world. It helps if you encourage socialization among other kids who have similar disabilities so that both groups feel comfortable around each other when coming together as a group during playtime or after-school activities in which everyone participates equally without being singled out as “different.”
Children with disabilities also need to be encouraged to develop social skills and have many experiences that they can share with their peers. This helps them to develop empathy, compassion, and understanding for the individuals in the world who are different from themselves.
4. Give your child opportunities to try new things and learn new skills.
Give your child opportunities to try new things and learn new skills.
Help them do this by:
- Encouraging them to try new things.
- Letting them learn new skills.
- Helping them learn how to make smart decisions, such as taking time to think through a problem before acting on it
- Teach your child about safety in general, whether it is physical (don’t touch the stove) or emotional (don’t call people names).
When you give them the chance to make their own mistakes, they learn how to be confident and successful in life.
5. Teach them about safety and the importance of making smart decisions.
As you teach your child about safety and the importance of making smart decisions, remember that all children are different. Some people with disabilities have difficulty judging danger because of their disability or lack of experience in a given situation.
You can help your child learn how to make safe decisions by:
- Talking about what is safe and what is not when you’re around other people. For example, if a classmate is shivering without a coat, you might ask her if she is cold. And if a group of classmates seems dangerous or violent, you may want to stay away from them.
- Giving examples of what could happen if a person gets hurt while doing something (e.g., “If you fall down while riding your bike down this hill at full speed, you could get hurt”).This will help your child think about how his disability affects his ability to be around certain things or do certain activities safely (e.g., “You might trip over the cracks in our sidewalk”). You should also let him know what he can do differently next time (e.g., ride slower so there isn’t as much pressure on his foot pedals).
6. Let your child make their own mistakes whenever it is safe to do so, but be there to catch them if they fall.
It’s important to let your child make their own mistakes whenever it is safe to do so, but be there to catch them if they fall.
The best way for children with developmental disabilities to learn is by making mistakes and learning from them. They need someone who will let them try new things and also be there when they fall down so that they don’t get hurt.
7. Celebrate the love you have for each other every day!
Celebrate the love you have for each other every day!
Your child with a developmental disability is just as much a part of your family as any other. If you are like many parents, you likely see yourself as one of the most important people in their life, and that’s okay. However, it’s also important to remember that your child has needs outside yours. Sometimes these needs involve physical assistance or help with activities of daily living; sometimes they don’t. The support he or she gets from those around him or her will either help that child reach his or her full potential or stunt his or her growth.
8. Provide Support to the Child to Help Build Confidence
By showing your child that you believe in them, you allow them to feel confident about themselves. This confidence can give them the strength and motivation to accomplish their goals.
By listening to your child and sharing information about things he’s interested in, you can demonstrate that you believe in him/her.
If your child has trouble with verbal or emotional expression, it’s important that he/she feels comfortable talking openly with someone else like family members or therapists, so the child knows there are people who care about what she has to say.
There is no easy way to approach these situations. Parenting a child with a developmental disability is challenging, but so rewarding. With the right support network, education, and resources, it is possible to raise a child to thrive despite their disability. Most importantly, parents need support and guidance from professionals in the field. Going through this period can be stressful, but it is possible to raise your child with love and care.