How to Deal With a Disabled Child

Give yourself time to adjust. 

Worries are normal, and okay. It’s a lot to take in. You will be able to handle it.

Reach out to others.

 Look to disabled people who can remember their own childhoods, and supportive parents of disabled people who accept their differences.. Both groups of people can offer advice and support. The parents have had the same parenting challenges that you will face, and the disabled people can remember their childhoods and what worked (and didn’t work) for them.

Research your child’s disability. 

Reading about the disability can help you understand what your child is going through, and be prepared for the various challenges you and your child will face. Being informed will help you understand what is going on.

Find good doctors/specialists. 

Look for someone who has experience in cases like your child’s, who listens carefully to you (and your child too), and has a helpful attitude. A good specialist can be an incredible resource to you and your child.

Accept your child’s own pace. 

Your child may not meet the standard developmental timeline, and that’s okay. Prepare to change your expectations and be patient with your child. Celebrate the little victories, and quit worrying about what the kids next door can do.

Be prepared to be patient and slow down.

Presume competence. 

Your child might be paying closer attention, and trying harder, than you realize. Act with the assumption that your child can understand what you say, and that they want to succeed. They will grow and rise to meet your expectations.

Teach your child at their level.

 If your child can’t count change yet, it wouldn’t make sense to have them learn multiplication with their same-age peers. Similarly, if your five-year-old is a fluent reader, give them children’s chapter books. Tailor your lessons to your child’s unique abilities, and focus on what their personal next step is (not what their peers are learning).

Trust your instincts. 

You are the expert on your child, and you have loving intuition about what will help them and what will hurt them. If a specialist recommends something that you don’t feel is helpful, appropriate, or ethical, then this is worth talking about. A good specialist will listen to your concerns and take your point of view seriously.

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