Receiving a special needs diagnosis for your child can be a challenge, sometimes a shock, sometimes unexpected or it may just be a relief. Here are my Top Tips for Dealing with Your Child’s Special Needs Diagnosis.
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Take Time to Adjust
After diagnosis it takes time to adjust and to realise that maybe the hopes and dreams you wished for your child will not be as you planned.
You need to allow yourself time to adjust to a different journey. You may blame yourself, you may feel angry, wronged, why me. Just know these are normal feelings that a lot of parents go through.
There is no time limit to this adjusting to a life different to the one you had planned. You are a human being with thoughts and emotions, give yourself permission to work through these feelings.
Talk to your partner (if you have one) about how you are feeling, or to a good friend. Talk to your child’s team if you have one. There may be a social worker who can support you through this time.
If you feel overwhelmed and unsupported talk to your family doctor. One of the biggest risks to parents of children with special needs is depression.
Seek out a support group in your area. Connect Family Network is a good place to start for a map of support groups.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking time for yourself is a necessity.
When you are caring for a child with special needs, it can be very isolating and it is very easy to get stuck in the role of carer and forgetting to take care of yourself. Self-care is not selfish it is essential.
If you are overwhelmed, exhausted and isolated, your mental health will suffer and you cannot do your best as a parent for your child.
Check if Entitled to Supports
Check out if there are any supports you may be entitled too.
Most support groups or charities supporting parents of children with special needs, will have this information. Another source of this information is your child’s team (if you have one) or your Public Health Nurse.
Getting good information of what services supports you are entitled to and making use of them in addition to support from extended family is hugely beneficial to your quality of life as a family.
One Day at a Time
Try not to think too far in the future. Take each day one step at a time. It’s okay to put off family and friends questions about your child in the early days until you are ready to talk about it.
Don’t worry about others. Some parents find printing off some information or buying a small book that explains your child’s condition and giving it to relatives and friends much easier.
Being a parent to a child with special needs may not be the journey you planned, but it can joyful and rewarding along with the challenges. You may surprise yourself at the strength you will find to do things you never imagined you could do.
While there will be challenges, the love for your child is amazing, it gives your strength, hope and the ability to adapt and do things you never thought possible.
Over to you! Have you any tips you would add to this? Let us know in the comments below.