By Teacher Kina Conchu
Being a parent to a child is a very important job. You help your child learn and develop every day. You are in fact, your child’s first teacher. You are there to give help and support when it is needed. When you have a child with special needs, it is sometimes hard to know if you are doing the right thing. Your love and concern for your child is a very good starting point.
Remember that each child is different and may learn and develop at a different pace. However, if you notice that your child’s development is very different from other children of the same age, you may want to talk to someone about your concern. Trust your feelings about your child. If you have a concern, get advice and help as soon as you can. The sooner your child’s special needs are met, the better off your child and family will be.
Where do you get help? Your doctor can be a good place to start. Social service agencies and your local school system might also be able to help. They may refer you to special doctors and professionals for your child’s assessment and evaluation. Based on the information and records you can provide, their observations and tests they can run, this evaluation will help you have a clearer picture of your child’s abilities and needs.
As the parent of a child with special needs, you will make decisions for your child that other parents don’t have to face. You will meet with many different people who will provide the services needed by your child, and you will need to know what kinds of services are available so you can make decisions that you think are best for your child and the rest of your family.
Make a list of your child’s strengths and successes. Keep a file of photos, videos, notes, artwork or schoolwork to show what your child likes to do. List down your child’s needs and what can be done to meet these needs. Discovering your special child’s strengths and interests is important to help you plan for your child’s education and development. As a parent, you play an important role in getting the services that can be provided for you and your child. There are places to go to for help and support.
All children learn by playing. Through play, children begin to explore and ask questions. Play gives them a chance to dream, make choices, try new things, have fun, and learn. Children with special needs should have the same chance to play and meet other children.
They should take part in activities with other children, including children who do not have special needs. All children can learn from one another. Your child has as much to give to others as he or she will receive from others. Good friendships can develop as children learn to work and play together. If your child has a brother or sister, encourage them to play together. They will learn from one another, building confidence and skills needed for playing and being with others outside of the family.
Think about what your child does well. Try to find an activity where that skill or talent can be used. Look for activities and play groups your child will enjoy and that can develop skills and talents. Ask about activities in school and in the community. Some programs may be swimming, art, sports and church activities.
It is natural for your dreams for your child to change over time. You and your child will also change. Be flexible, remember that part of making dreams come true means getting the right services to meet your child’s needs. You will find that others will support you and share your dreams.
As you work with your child, it will also be helpful to meet with other parents of children with special needs. Sometimes you may feel alone, angry, and stressed in your dealings with your child. This is natural, and you should not ignore your own feelings. To help your child, you must also help yourself by getting the support you need. Ask your child’s teachers and doctors for information about support groups for family members of children with special needs. Find and join a group you can trust and be comfortable with. Actively support its advocacy. Brothers and sisters of children with special needs also could do with support, and can get together to form or join support groups. These groups are a good venue to talk and share information about special needs.
It is important for you and your child to do things with different children. Everyone will benefit and learn from both of you. Others will be better able to help you by sharing their ideas, support and other assistance.
Your love and dreams for your child are your greatest strengths. Do not give up when the going gets tough. PRAY for God’s grace in your effort to help your child with special needs.