When we signed on for this parenting gig, many of us knew that there would be long nights and struggles at some point. Children, all of them as a fact, come with their own set of unique challenges that can make our job of raising them incredibly difficult. For many of us, the moment we found out our children had special needs was when reality finally sunk in and we knew we were in for a bumpy ride.
Don’t get me wrong, raising children with special needs is one of the most rewarding experiences a parent can have. The extra hours spent at specialists or in IEP meetings are worth every precious moment as we get to see our sons and daughters accomplish a new goal or see the delight in the tiniest details. However, there are days where the unending demands of parenthood and our child’s unique circumstances can cause even the strongest parents to teeter on the edge of burnout.
Support And Resources Available For Parents
It’s alright to acknowledge that not everything is perfect all the time. We have all had those parenting moments when it feels like nothing can go right and the world is crashing around our feet. Instead of letting the pressures build eventually leading you to burnout in a torrent of emotional tears or four letter words, consider taking advantage of the wonderful resources available today that are basically at our fingertips.
Luckily, with a few intentional choices and balance checks we can regain our focus and enjoy our children. To help us on this journey, we have compiled six ways to find support:
- Find emotional support in groups or online communities. Take advantage of our modern technology to locate other parents who are in similar situations and understand the crazy ride we are on. By drawing on shared experiences you can gain valuable allies who can offer advice, support, and lend an ear. There are a variety of possible support networks and local community resources available with a tap of a finger.
- If homework has you down, consider using technology to help overcome problems associated with learning disabilities or the struggle of physically writing. There are apps galore that can be downloaded onto an iPad, assistive technologies, computers, and even our Smartphones. Search for apps that can allow children to easily take notes, convert all written materials into a spoken version, practice specific skill-sets, or look for Optical Character Recognition technology to help children with special needs overcome pens and papers. Look for new ideas coming from classrooms that rely on using different fonts and background colors to help dyslexic or emerging readers. By focusing on a child’s verbal skills and abilities, we can help end the nightly struggle with writing.
- Look for alternative schooling options that might provide the best education setting for your child. Children in classrooms all have different needs and requirements when it comes to learning, and some methods might work better for your child. Consider different public schools, home school options, distant learning opportunities, charter schools, or educational centers available in your area.
- Ask the local school about early childhood services for young children who may have special needs. If a child has a special need, the school district is required by law to offer interventions like speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and more. Even if a child isn’t old enough to go to school they still qualify for these services. Take advantage of these opportunities to get a head start on education.
- Consider using grants to help cover medical or equipment costs. Money is a major factor when it comes to our stress. Thankfully, many organizations and programs rise to the challenge of helping families with special needs by helping provide free or reduced cost medical needs.
- Don’t let other children in the family feel left out. Being a sibling is dicey enough on its own, but the rivalry and resentment can be overwhelming at times in families with special needs. Look for support groups for the siblings to help ease some of the stress in the family.
What resources do you recommend for families with special needs to prevent burnout?
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.