Thursday, November 10, 2011

Four Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Four Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being A Parent of Special Needs Children:

  1. Ask for help.  Wow, this is the hardest one to do, but one of the most important.  You don't realize what's out there until you do! Finding out you're not alone and having a support circle can be critical when you hit THOSE days when it seems like nothing is going right and NO ONE gets what it's like.
  2. Consider counseling for siblings, spouses or parents.  Amazingly enough once you get dealing with the Special Needs issues under control don't forget that others are struggling with a lot of similar issues. Sometimes a sibling feels 'left out' because of all the attention your other child needs on a daily basis.  Work with a counselor so you both are comfortable with these issues.  Grandparents are tricky.  My mother in law is still lighting candles... for her this is how she 'DEALS'.  That's OK.  It's her comfort zone.  Let your parents deal with your child's disability in their own way as long as it isn't hurting your child.  Sometimes a spouse is the one who needs counseling, or couples counseling is the way to go.  Usually one parent ends up handling the issues of your special needs child.  Don't leave your spouse out of the 'loop.' 
  3. Be an advocate for your child.  R. Brooke Porch, former principal at Indian Lane School and former Director of Special Education for Upper Darby Township gave me the best advice I ever received when my daughter was in pre-school and transitioning into the regular school system.  He said "Be the squeaky wheel."  Of course he gave me this advice before he was promoted to Director of Special Ed where he was the person I 'squeaked' to!  (Brooke if you're out there, my daughter is teaching preschool today--thank you.) So be your child's advocate.  Get out there and push for them.  And teach them to push for themselves if need be. 
  4.  Most of all, believe in your child's abilities.  Sometimes when you have a special needs child you forget to concentrate on the 'can do's.'  When my children were first diagnosed I fell into the trap of 'can't do' thinking.  Over the years I grew into the 'can do' mind set.  The sooner you get there the better the outcome.  Give your child the opportunities to TRY. 

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