Learning that your child has special needs – whether it’s autism, Down syndrome, sensory processing disorder, learning disabilities, or anything else – can take time to accept. While it can provide a sense of relief because now you have answers, it can also unearth a variety of new questions. Plus, you must learn how to cope with changes to your family’s lifestyle, routines, behaviors, communications, and much more. In a sense, you must develop a new “normal.”
One of the first things to do is learn as much as you can about their diagnosis and how it affects them. How does it impact their physical abilities, mental health, socialization, communication, and learning? Remember that every child is different, and it may take time to figure out how to best support your child and address their needs.
Keep an Open Mind
No two children and no two families are exactly like. What works for someone else may not work for you. Find what works best for your family and how you can be supportive of everyone. Be willing to try different approaches because you never know what might resonate with your child. Something that seems untraditional or out of the norm to you may be just what they need. Let your child help guide the way and pay attention to what they say and how they act.
There are a wide range of therapies available for children with special needs ranging from ABA Therapy and speech therapy to occupational therapy and play therapy. Your child may benefit from one of these services or a combination of approaches. Partner with your healthcare provider and therapists to create an individualized plan for your child. Stick with it and be patient – it may take time to see results. And remember, you can always make adjustments as you go.
You don’t have to go through this journey alone. There are many other families with similar experiences and situations. Find people you can connect with, lean on, and ask for help. You may have multiple groups you call on for support depending on your needs. Don’t be afraid to speak up and practice self-care. Taking care of your self is an important component of being able to effectively care for your family.
Having a child with special needs does change your life, but how you respond will decide how. You can make it an amazing journey full of celebrating successes and accomplishments and overcoming challenges. Keep a positive outlook and realize that there are organizations like PediaPlex that are there to provide valuable services to support your child’s needs and development. If you’re unsure of even where to start, fill out a patient intake form and talk to the team about what options are available for addressing your child’s needs. Figuring out your new “normal” can take time, but you’re never alone.
If you’re unsure of what services might best help your child, fill out our patient intake form and we’ll contact you to discuss.