For parents of children with special needs, every part of parenting is intensified. Playdates can be a minefield, diplomacy becomes a mandatory aspect of your day to day life, and patience becomes crucial to a successful day.
Additionally, trips to the doctor are more frequent, more expensive, and usually more stressful. Ordinary errands are rife with potential pitfalls and disasters. Every move requires more planning, thinking, and management.
Special needs parents find themselves with their own special needs.
At Twin Cities Kids Club, we encourage you to reach out an extra hand of support to your friends with special needs children. Show them you are there for them.
Parents of special needs kids have their own needs. We will discuss a few of them now, plus some ways you can help.
Finding that necessary ‘me’ time can be difficult for any parent. Between PTO meetings and other deadlines, free time can be tight. For the parents of a special needs child, those stresses are amplified 10-fold.
On top of the regular planning and scheduling, special needs kids have extra necessities. For example, every parent of a special needs kid needs an IEP or Individual Education Plan. This plan will prove necessary for your special student’s success in school.
Finding doctors and dentists that will work with a special needs kid can provide its own challenges. As a friend of a special needs parent, you can help by showing understanding and concern for your friend as he or she navigates those challenges.
While the rewards are worth the effort, being the parent of a child with special needs can be exhausting and time-consuming. On top of the usual parenting activities, add extra time in the car for appointments, all the paperwork and research, managing meltdowns, preparing special foods that don’t aggravate their child’s various allergies, intolerances, and preferences.
Additionally, all the stares and questions from well-meaning friends and neighbors can begin to wear on the psyche. You can help by providing an ear or a shoulder, as needed. If you can help with any of the administrative duties, offer and follow through.
Money, Money, and More Money
In most cases, the income a family receives is more than enough money for a family to live comfortably. Unfortunately, one of the pitfalls of raising a child with special needs is the added costs.
That child will need special medicine, equipment, specialists, and extra gas money to allow them to drive to all these additional appointments. On top of that, some parents will need to cut back on their hours at work to be more available for the needs of their child.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to help out with this one; just provide your emotional support.
Parents of special needs kids need a chance to escape the added stresses and pressures of their everyday life. For parents of special needs kids, it can begin to seem like every communication or event revolves around your child.
One of the most beneficial services you can provide your friend is an interaction that is normal and ordinary. Go out for a beer, take them to a ballgame or a day in the park, or just spend time together doing everyday activities.
A Sitter For a Night Away
Finding a babysitter for a special needs child can be extra challenging. Just like any other parent, parents of a child with special needs children need a night away too.
Sitters who are trained to watch a special needs child are not only hard to find; they usually charge double or even triple the rate of average babysitters.
If you want to help, offer your services as a babysitter every once and awhile. You may be refused, but at least you have introduced the option.
Reassurances and Kind Words
As any parent knows, doubt can plague even the best parents. For parents of special needs children, that anxiety can be even higher.
- Have I chosen the right medical treatment?
- Is this the right therapeutic option?
- Am I doing enough to improve my child’s chances in life?
- Am I doing additional harm?
These are just a few of the questions running through my mind of a parent of a child with special needs. If you want to help ease that burden, the best thing you can do is listen, empathize, and provide a few reassuring words when needed.
Exercise and Proper Nutrition
With the added stresses and needs of a family with a special needs child, things like exercise and proper nutrition may fall by the wayside.
On the downside, a lack of exercise and proper nutrition can be detrimental to one’s health. If your digestion and wellness is not a priority, your overall health will be affected.
May we suggest inviting your friend with a special needs child out for a group workout class. You will get to spend time with your friend while he or she gets a chance to unwind.
Get a Clue
Children with special needs often have their own unique set of issues. Incidences that may lead to a minor meltdown for most children may lead an autistic child to completely shutdown.
When the parent of a special needs child sees the exchanged looks and raised eyebrows, it can cause his or her own anxiety to skyrocket. You can help if you simply make an effort to inform yourself of your friends’ child’s quirks.
When you are the parent of a child with special needs, you may feel left out of your friends social circles. You may believe that you are alone in the world and that no one who isn’t in your situation can understand what you are going through.
If you have a friend who has a special needs child, do your best to make sure he or she feels included as much as possible. Also, teach your kids ways to include their friends who have special needs.
Here at Twin Cities Kids Club, we understand and appreciate the specific challenges facing families with special needs children. The brave men and women who face these struggles are indeed heroes.
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