Parents of a special needs child have to work twice as hard in an effort to give their child a normal and healthy upbringing. Taking care of a disabled child requires them to be alert all the time, pay up for expensive hospital visits and still enjoy their parenting journey. As a result, they get mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted from all the demands placed that are placed on them.
It’s even harder when the people around them aren’t sensitized on how to work with a parent with a special needs child. Many parents of special needs children have expressed facing stigma and criticism from their peers due to their situation. While it’s hard to put yourself in their shoes, there are ways you can help a parent with special needs child and make their life a little easier.
1. Don’t Tell Them To Teach Their Child How To Behave
Children with special needs will act differently from other children. It’s up to you to learn about their disability and know why they act as they do. The last thing a parent with a special needs child wants to hear is how to raise their child. Additionally, learning about their disability will help you avoid doing things that might trigger bad behavior from the child.
2. Offer To Run Their Errands
It might be hard to care for a special needs child if you don’t have experience or the necessary training. However, you can still take the load off their parents by offering to help run the errands. They also have other responsibilities around the house apart from their children which you can help them do. They’ll appreciate the help but most of all, they’ll appreciate the company around the house.
3. Sensitize Your Family About Special Needs Children
Raising awareness is the best way to help a parent with a special needs child and it all starts at home. Teach your children how to interact with a child with special needs. Additionally, let the adults know what to say and what not to say to the parents of a special needs child. Teach them how they should interact with both the parents and the child.
4. Ask Others To Help
If you live near a parent with a special needs child, try to get the whole community involved in helping them. As they say, many hands make light work. There are different things that they can do like shopping for groceries, cleaning the house, cooking and even fund raising. As mentioned, raising a special needs child is quite expensive.
5. Be Positive
It can be devastating for the parent when their child is diagnosed with a disability. As a friend or relative, you should offer them moral support by keeping a positive attitude around them. Try to remind them that it’s not the worst thing that could happen and give examples of special needs people who have grown to become productive members of the society.
6. Ask About The Child’s Interests
Special needs children also have interests, likes and dislikes just like any other child. They may like music, football, dolls or reading books. Ask their parents what they like and even gift them their favourite toys. This gets you involved in the child’s life and shows the parent that you have a genuine interest. Additionally, parents of a special needs child appreciate when other people see their child as a child and human being.
7. Do Your Research
It might come across as rude to ask the parent some questions especially about their child’s condition. Once you’ve learned their kind of disability, research about it. every question you might have about the condition has most likely been answered on the internet and all you have to do is search for them. You can search about the frequently asked questions which will most likely answer all your questions.
8. Share In The Enthusiasm
What may seem like an ordinary achievement to others is a great milestone for a parent with a special needs child. Therefore, you should acknowledge their excitement when their child does something they deem as extraordinary. Even when they don’t do anything, try to encourage their good behavior by praising them and celebrating them. This will simply make the parent’s day and may also mean a lot to the child.
9. Babysit Their Other Children
Siblings also feel the effects of having a special needs family member. For instance, their parents are not able to spend as much time with them since they have to look after their sibling. As such, they may miss crucial parental guidance and socializing. You can offer the watch the kids regularly to help them interact with their peers and get some parent-child moments.
10. Invite The Parents Over
The parents get tired of spending the whole day in their home and a change in environment will definitely elevate their mood. You can invite them to your home and host the whole family for dinner. This will not only help take some responsibilities off their shoulder but also allow them to spend some quality time with other adults.