According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2010, 2.8 million students were reported to have a disability. Out of these 89.4% were enrolled in public schools. 7.3% were enrolled in private schools for special needs children and 3.3% were not enrolled in any school. Even though special needs schools are a great learning platform for kids, most of their learning takes place at home.
As a parent to a special needs child, you might have a lot of concerns and questions. And rightly so! Special needs children are sensitive and need more care. It is natural for stress and anxiety to creep in when dealing with them. However, according to research, feelings of anxiety in parents make life difficult for everyone. Therefore, parents who are calm, patient and understanding can help children more. For parents who suffer from anxiety need to focus on their well-being as well and make a genuine effort to stay happy and strong.
Here are 10 helpful practices for parents of special needs children:
Join a support group: Getting in touch with other parents who are in a similar situation as you, will help you a lot. You can share your troubles with people who understand exactly what you are going through. Support groups can have their meetings anywhere from local churches to school gyms or even at homes of one of the parents.
Try yoga and meditation: This is the age-old method of dealing with stressful situations. It can make you healthier and more capable of looking at things clearly. A plus point of this technique is that you prosper both physically and mentally.
Pause, reflect and react: Try and pause for a few seconds before you react to a troublesome situation. Consciously slow down your breathing and be calm about the situation at hand. One of the exercises to calm down is to take a deep breath and count till ten. It will help you avoid saying things that you may regret later.
Be thankful: People who are thankful enjoy more positive emotions, optimism and have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Every time you feel depressed or low, encourage yourself to think of all the things that are going well for you. Try to think of even the smallest of reasons that contribute to your well-being.
Don’t pause your life: Doing stuff that you love will help you take a much needed break. Don’t make your life entirely about taking care of the kids. Go see a movie, get a massage, join an aerobics class or maybe enroll in a cake decorating class. Giving attention to yourself deepens your ability to withstand emotional stress and increases the amount of patience you’ll need.
Make a routine chart: This should apply to the entire family. Have a family activity schedule up in a prominent place, such as the living room or the fridge. This will help create a predictable routine for activities, meal times, play times and homework etc.
List your worries: You and the kids, both should do this. If your kids can’t write, just let them draw. This will put all your worries into focus, and help you and the kids realize that sharing helps in reducing worries.
Use humor: Laughter can go a long way in changing your mindset and thinking patterns. This will serve as a quick mental breather from all your stressful concerns. Encourage the kids to participate in activities that genuinely make them laugh out loud.
Get good sleep, nutrition and exercise: This one is a no-brainer. It is the simplest way to help ease anxiety and stress that comes with dealing with special needs children. When you and the kids are well rested, well fed and physically active, your resilience for life will go way up.
Observe and listen: Children with special needs tend to get shunned out by most of their peers due to their disabilities. This ends up making them shy and quiet. Observe how they feel and listen so that you can help them.
Parents of special needs children may already know the above, but sometimes might forget. Being a parent is tough but being parent to a special needs child can be tougher. You can start by making a conscious effort to always keep these helpful practices in mind so that it doesn’t have to be tough than it already is. Try and keep yourself updated on the latest developments in terms of dyslexia and school for special kids, special education transition methods and how to make the transition from a regular school to a special needs school as easy as possible for your kid. By remaining updated, you might keep learning newer ways to communicate with your child in a more effective manner.
Special needs schools help; however, children spend a major chunk of their time at home. This is why parents need to use these tips and make sure special needs kids get the best of everything life has to offer.