When you’re a parent, nothing is more important than the well-being of your children. While we all hope for healthy babies, sometimes birth injuries can cause lifelong physical or cognitive impairments. It can be devastating to receive such news. But what’s even more challenging is navigating the long road to recovery and learning how to raise a differently-abled child. For this reason, parents must be well informed.
Educating yourself about your child’s condition can be incredibly empowering. Knowing what to expect and how best to care for your child is crucial for providing a healthy environment where they can thrive.
So, let’s take a look at some tips to help you raise a differently-abled child.
You aren’t alone
When life gives us unexpected challenges, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. “Why me?” is a common reaction. But you aren’t alone in this journey. Your child’s health team, therapists, and other specialists can help you along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or share your feelings.
According to CDC, 7 out of every 1000 babies are born with a birth injury in the United States alone. So, there is a large community of parents who understand your struggles. Connect with them and get advice from people who have been in your shoes.
Moreover, many organizations offer resources and advice. For instance, if you’re dealing with medical malpractice, the Birth Injury Justice Centre can guide you in exploring your legal and financial options.
Understand the situation you’re dealing with
It’s essential to understand the challenges your child is facing. Learning as much as you can about their condition helps you create a safe and secure environment. It’ll also help you understand any future medical complications that might arise.
Looking into different therapy options will give you insight into the treatments and strategies that can help your child live an everyday life. For instance, if you’re kid has cerebral Palsy, physical therapy can help build strength and improve coordination.
Plus, when it comes to advocating for your child, having well-rounded knowledge is key. So, talk to the doctors and ask questions about treatments, therapies, and any other action plans that they have proposed.
Keep your observation skills sharp
Sometimes, the smallest changes can make big differences in your child’s condition. As parents of children with special needs, it’s crucial to observe their behavior, track any milestones they achieve, and document anything that affects their progress. You’ll need to be extra vigilant to spot any potential problems or changes in behavior.
For instance, children with Erb’s Palsy can experience a decrease in muscle strength as they grow. So, you must keep an eye out for any changes and discuss them with your doctor or physiotherapist.
Create a supportive environment
Raising any child is hard work, but raising a differently-abled child can be harder. Hence, creating an environment that helps them feel safe and secure is essential. Reassuringly talk to them and take time to understand their needs. If they can’t express themselves verbally, look for any behavioral changes that might hint at their emotions. For instance, a child feeling anxious might start banging their head.
Provide them with emotional support and ensure they feel relaxed in your presence. Also, set routines so that they know what to expect. A consistent schedule will help them feel secure and make it easier for them to complete daily tasks.
Many parents think that their child needs to be constantly working on therapy and treatments all the time. But it’s essential to include plenty of playtime in your schedule too. Playing helps your child bond with you, build relationships with others and develop motor skills. It also allows them to express themselves through creative activities such as music or art.
Studies have also shown that playtime can help in easing behavior problems. So, don’t forget to give them regular breaks and encourage creative activities.
Some good learning toys for differently-abled children include shapes and stacking games, building blocks, and puzzles.
Give yourself time to heal
It’s easy for parents to lose themselves in caring for their child with birth injuries. But it’s essential to take time out and focus on caring for yourself. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, take the time to find some peace and remember to take care of yourself too.
If you’re struggling with an emotional burden, consider seeking a professional. Talking to a therapist will help you cope with life’s challenges.
Alternatively, you can take up a sport, practice yoga or take a break for a day and get some fresh air. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you take steps to look after your mental and physical health.
Childproof your home
Childhood gets its fair share of bumps and bruises. But, for children with mobility issues, these accidents can be especially dangerous. Since these little darlings usually take longer to understand the risks of certain activities, it’s essential to childproof your home.
Secure any sharp edges and look out for fragile items that can be broken. Make sure to eliminate any choking hazards and look out for tripping hazards like loose carpets or area rugs.
Also, you’ll need to make adjustments for your child’s unique needs. For instance, if your child is wheelchair-bound, you might have to adjust doorways and counters to give them more access.
Parents of children growing up with birth injuries have the power to set their kiddos up for success by teaching them how to be responsible. Simple tasks like collecting toys and cleaning up after themselves can encourage independence, which is one of the biggest hurdles those with disabilities must face. Start at home – ask your little bunny to take charge, and you’ll soon see a shift in their confidence as they begin living an independent life!
Another way to cultivate independence is to create opportunities for your child. Take them for swimming lessons, or sign them up for a cooking class. You’ll be encouraging their self-development and helping them build a rewarding future.
Sometimes, raising a differently-abled child can feel like an uphill battle. And since, like any other parenting, there’s no manual or instruction book, it can be confusing. But, with patience and understanding, you’ll soon find that life will get easier. Your little bub will learn to conquer the world, and you’ll be there every step of the way.
So, take your time, take a deep breath, and remember that you’re never alone. There’s an entire community of parents who understand the struggles and joys of raising a child going through similar circumstances as yours. Keep the love pouring, and you’ll soon find yourself growing with your child.