Parenting a Child With Special Needs
Many parents and primary caregivers of children with special needs are faced with unexpected challenges and emotions. However, they are not alone. Although their individual experiences may differ, many parents/primary caregivers have similar emotional dynamics.
Children with special needs include, but are not limited to, those with medical/health issues, Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, speech/feeding issues, blind/visually impaired, deaf/hearing impaired, physical disabilities, chronic diseases, behavioral or mental health issues, premature birth, sensory issues, and learning disabilities.
Many parents/primary caregivers can learn to cope with the demands of parenting a child with special needs once they learn about the emotions with which they are dealing and how to address them.
Not all parents/primary caregivers may experience these emotions. However, it is helpful for them to be aware of the various emotions involved and to realize that their experiences and feelings are normal.
- Loss of the “perfect baby/child” that was anticipated prior to the birth or diagnosis
- Hopes and plans for child’s future
- Lifestyle prior to child’s birth or diagnosis
- Toward themselves, partner, child
- Medical system
- Educational system
- Treatment team
- Religious belief system
- Unable to protect child
- Child’s suffering
- Less attention toward other children
- Relationship with partner
- Less focus on self
- Unable to leave home
- Not wanting to interact with others
- Avoid having to explain child’s conditions and answer questions
- Resentment toward others with “normal children”
- “No one else understands” what they are going through
- Can sense that other people are uncomfortable around child
- Financially unable to do activities
- Difficulty meeting child’s needs outside of home
- Lack of accommodations
Reprinted with the permission of the National Association of Social Workers.
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