Empowering the Special Needs Community
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Balancing All Aspects of Life with an Autistic Child
Parenting is an impressive balancing act. Between school, extracurriculars, sports, and whatever else kids are busy doing, it can be hard for parents to handle it. Add on the extra stress of a child with special needs, and parents are often left wondering how they are still left standing at the end of each day. As a community agency that support these families, you can help them by providing guidance and support. We recommend encouraging parents to do the following:
Choose attainable goals.
Parents don’t have to say “yes” to everything. Whether it’s one of their children wanting to participate in every sport, their job asking them to stay take on extra projects, or people asking them to volunteer for more projects, encourage them to say no. Even as they work on goals with their special needs child, discourage them from doing too much. Perhaps their child has a goal of bathing on their own and making their own lunch, but if it proves to be overwhelming for the parent to work toward both goals, encourage them to pick just one. Reassure parents that they don’t have to accomplish everything at once. One step at a time is all that is required.
Success is rooted in progress.
Too often we compare winning to success, but this is far from the truth. Remind parents that their child doesn’t have to be excellent in an area to have shown progress. Perhaps they still don’t know how to tie their shoes, but they are picking their own clothes out every morning. Small victories make big differences, and it’s important to encourage parents to celebrate these victories when facing challenges. It is those small successes that will give their child the positive reinforcement they need to keep trying.
It’s OK to change gears.
Maybe therapy on top of school on top of piano lessons on top of social learning club ends up being too much for the parent – or the child – to manage. Recognize that the parent always has good intentions, but that it’s ok to scale back. Parents often worry that if they dare take their foot off the pedal, they’ll lose all progress. This is not the case. Even dedicated weight-lifters take time off to allow for muscles to recover, which in the end makes them even stronger. A child can take a bit of time off and keep moving forward. Also, change is difficult, but with parental support, they can handle it.
Take time for self-care.
This is the hardest for parents to remember. Many parents with special needs children are overwhelmed simply from the day-to-day demands required in caring for the child. However, these children benefit most from parents who have the strength to advocate for them and be the support system they need. Encourage parents to take time away. Even small breaks make a huge difference. If your program offers respite, you already understand the necessity of breaks away. Even a family member that the child is familiar with can provide respite, but helping parents find the community resources that offer respite services to parents can be of enormous help.
The balancing act is hard to manage for parents of children with special needs, but with the support of agencies like yours, they can do it!
AngelSense is committed to creating a safer world for children with special needs. We designed the AngelSense GPS tracker for kids to give parents the peace of mind that their child is safe at all times.
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