Raising kids is no easy task, but it can become even more challenging when your child has special needs. This requires a whole other level of planning. It can be tough when your child faces difficulties their peers may not, or when your family does things differently than others. Finding acceptance from others can be a welcome relief. Here are a few ways that you can be more supportive of families with special needs and build meaningful relationships:
- Be understanding of the challenges they face: Maybe your child is running around like a whirling dervish and another child is just learning to stand on their own. Each child develops at their own pace. Learn more about the child’s condition so that you can be supportive and understand their differences in abilities. Focus on their blossoming personality and the things your child shares in common, like a love of Paw Patrol or an obsession with the color green.
- Invite them on playdates, to birthday parties, and other events: Make the family feel included. Children with special needs enjoy playing with their friends just like other children. Make accommodations to help them make the most of the time together, such as avoiding allergens, clearing space for their wheelchair, or letting them come early before a lot of other kids arrive.
- Ask how to help: Don’t just offer – actually do something. Tell them you’ll drive the kids to practice or drop off a meal. Have a playdate where you watch the kids so they can have a break. Inquire as to what would be most helpful to them.
- Listen: Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on sometimes. Show compassion and let them vent or cry or laugh or whatever else they need without judgment or trying to solve problems for them. Just be there.
- Support charities: Raise awareness or funds to support charities, research, or advocacy for certain conditions. Educate yourself and others while showing you care and want to make a difference.
Every child is different, so get to know them for who they are. Teach your children to be accepting of others and how to be a good friend and set a positive example yourself. If you have a child with special needs, or know someone who does, check out PediaPlex as a valuable resource for diverse therapy and evaluation needs.
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