Center for child development

Ways to advocate for your special needs child

Raising a child with special needs is easily said than done, and it is a great responsibility that has to be done carefully. However, it is also important that you need to stay up and advocate for your child when you think it is necessary. Since children with special needs can attract a lot of eyes even now, people refuse to accept the condition as normal, and can pass comments that are unnecessary and hurting.

In order to advocate for your child and stand up for him/her, there are certain things you need to learn and understand.

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Get Organized:

One of the most important things that you must do is to become extremely organized with your child’s support. The first step in this is to create an organized medical file for your child with special needs. Keep each and every paper both in the digital and paper forms that can be accessed immediately. Make sure that you have all the papers even from the beginning of the treatment. Keep the latest documents in such a way that they are easily accessible.

At the end of every month, take the papers to an office supply centre and have everything photocopied and organized. Also, commit an hour every month to review the papers and ensure that the papers are all in order.

Educate yourself about your child’s condition:

Being a parent who has a special need child can be really challenging and it is your responsibility to protect and stand up for your child from all the negativity and hurtful comments—even though, unintended, most of the times. So the best thing is to educate yourself about everything there is to learn. You can go to support groups and community support centers if you need to learn more about it.

Even though doctors and therapists can give you a lot of details, understanding from the experiences of others can make a lot of difference to you and your awesome child. You must be willing to learn everything you can, ask questions until you understand things.

Be on a mission to educate others:

As you would have already known by now, people are going to make comments on your child; and, pretty stupid comments at that, at times. While you might feel good at retorting back to one as anyone else would, it is important that you take the time to understand the same and reply patiently and appropriately. Though this may feel awkward in the beginning, you will soon start to realize that responding with information can not only make you feel better but making the person who made the comment understand about the condition, as well.

Some people make comments without knowing anything about it and sometimes, without even realizing that they are hurting your feelings. One has to understand that it is often ignorance that leads to fear but it is knowledge that breeds acceptance.

Learn to be persistent:

There can be issues that come along; your insurance company may not provide for your child’s therapy? The school cannot support your child with an aide?

Do not be frustrated or aggravated. There will be a lot of situations where you need to encounter a no, keep your calm and restate your need with a smiling face.And, who knows it might work at the second, third, fourth or the 47th time. .

Take care of yourself:

One of the worst things that parents can do, while taking great care of the child, is to forget taking care of themselves. As understood, parenting is definitely a hard work and parenting a child with special needs is even more so. It can always be exhausting and take a toll on your body. As a result, it is important that you take good care of yourself.

In all the hard work that you do while taking care of your child, if you do not take care of yourself, chances are you will burn out sooner, rather than later. Only when you stay healthy and on your senses, can you help the child with his/her needs.

If you would like to share your experiences with others like you and help them better care for their children, there are support groups and community supports that can give you the platform.

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Abigail Jacob
After completion of the first year in the EMOT program..
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