the needs of special needs parents often go unheard, but there are ways to help

Being a parent takes a lot of hard work and can be downright scary at times. Parents are always second guessing themselves about doing the right thing for their children. They also worry about being able to protect them in a world that can be rather callous. For special needs parents, these emotions and concerns are exacerbated. This month, we are sharing insight on how best to support a parent or caregiver of a child with special needs.

Providing Support

Be there for them:  

Most special needs parents and caregivers tend to feel more isolated. Sometimes a phone call or text to see how their day is going can make all the difference.

Offer a listening ear:  

Special needs parents overcome unique challenges on a daily basis. Being able to express these challenges can help to alleviate some of the emotional strain.

Volunteer to help with daily errands:  Simple tasks like going to the grocery store or the post office pose unique challenges. Volunteering to pick up a few grocery items or dropping off a package can alleviate an exorbitant amount of stress.  

Give them some alone time:  If it is a close friend or family member, offer to babysit for a few hours a week or for an evening. Special needs parents find it difficult to carve out time for self-care. This is vital for anyone’s mental health and can make a world of difference.

The Importance of Inclusion

While providing support inside of the home and with daily errands is extremely important, parents of children with special needs require support outside of the home as well. Oftentimes, they can feel left out of mainstream society, whether it be inadvertently or due to feelings of judgement from others. As human beings, we all want to feel valued and accepted. Here are ways to help special needs parents and their children feel included:

Invite them to outings and events – Parents of special needs children often worry that their child is being left out of important activities like holiday events and birthday parties. Extending a sincere invitation may change their entire outlook and make them feel included.

Be an advocate – If you see a special needs caregiver or a child with special needs being left out, be an example. Offer to include them or simply have a conversation with them. Even if a special needs child is non-verbal, it does not mean they are not receptive or unable to communicate in their own way.

Helping to spread awareness about the importance of inclusion for children with special needs and their caregivers is another way to help and offer support. It is vital for children with special needs to feel that they are valued and accepted members of the community. As the old African proverb tells us, it takes a village to raise a child. This is even more true for parents of children with special needs, who may need a helping hand.

Written by Laura LeFrenier

This article has been republished from Renewed Awareness Magazine.

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