Although special needs children can now access education through mainstream schools, they face several challenges. Some teachers are not motivated to take care of the special needs of these children. Even worse, parents of special needs children are regularly exhausted and depressed.
Parents usually know more about the exact disorder their child suffers than any single professional dedicated to helping the child. They allocate several hours to exploring all accessible information.
Even with all these efforts, their reservoirs of time and resources for personal care are drained and their need for refueling is even greater. So what are the challenges for parents of special needs children and how can they be lessened?
What is a special needs child?
Before diving into the challenges for special needs children, let’s clarify some terms. Labels are much, most of them incorrect, some unpleasant, some are just trendy. Whereas, others are necessary to understand certain conditions and make adequate plans.
A special needs child is a child that requires more attention and specific requirements than other children. It can also be a legal description for a situation where a guardian or child receives support to help them lead productive lives. This is particularly obtainable in the adoption and foster care community.
However, for this article, our focus is on the former. Special needs is a broad term for a wide range of conditions, from physical ailments, psychiatric conditions, learning disabilities, to other terminal conditions. These children require additional support so they can reach their full capacities.
Notwithstanding, knowing the ‘label’ is valuable to get the appropriate medical services. It helps you set the right targets and understand your child and the challenges your family may encounter.
Parenting children with special needs
Special needs particularly describe what a child can’t do such as foods prohibited, targets unmet, experiences disallowed, and activities prevented. These obstacles can be hard for families to handle, which causes special needs to look like a dreadful term.
Some parents and guardians will always complain and grieve for their child’s conditions. While other parents will discover that these issues make accomplishments gratifying. These are some of the challenges and issues of parenting children with special needs.
Taking care of children with special needs can be stressful for parents, guardians, teachers, and caregivers. Some of these kids can be diagnosed with complex disorders like Mental Retardation, Autism, Tourette’s, or Bipolar Disorder. They may suffer from other less critical conditions such as mild asthma, diabetes, food allergies, or obesity.
According to a survey, mothers of children with autism had similar stress hormones as soldiers in warfare. We can even add other physical ailments that limit their ability to function like deafness, blindness, and other disabilities.
Kids with an auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities, battle with their schoolwork, irrespective of their level of intelligence. These children need specialized learning approaches to reach their full potentials and prevent behavioral difficulties or low self-esteem.
All these can be physically draining for parents, from dealing with emergencies and getting to the countless medical appointments. You should create a good support system when handling uncertainties and dealing with medical emergencies.
The huge medical costs for treatments can also be a form of financial stress for parents. You'll be required to raise money for special interventions and treatments that are not included in your child’s health insurance or school system.
The non-stop caregiving “burden”, which includes money, time, employment restrictions, commitments, and activity limitations is a major cause of a weakened level of financial prosperity for most families. Most families with special needs children suffer from poor or at least inadequate financial status.
Studies have suggested that the more critical the disability, the more the probabilities of financial-based issues. In most cases, one parent has to give up their career to care for the child, which leads to financial constraints for the family. Most times it’s the mother that gives up her job. This affects the mother on an emotional level.
Emotional and phycological stress
Parents and caregivers struggle with the physical and emotional impacts of taking care of special needs children. You have to be physically present to avoid emergencies, which can take a toll on your emotions. Feelings of isolation are frequent because you’ll miss out on most family-time because your child can’t participate in these activities.
Disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, and intellectual disabilities can change your dreams about the future. It can also present instant challenges in educating and taking care of your child. Likewise, children with behavioral issues such as Tourette's syndrome or ADHD, have an increased risk of difficulties at school.
All these may lead to emotional impacts of grief, guilt, feelings of isolation, and anxiety. Parents grieve over not having enough parenting experience, the loss of their future dreams for their child, and constant reminders of what that child is missing out on.
Parents can experience anxiety and worry over the child’s future, the child’s pain and suffering. They even worry about whether they are doing the right things to help. Likewise, you might feel guilty about the limits of your capacity to protect the child or even feel guilty for being jealous of other “normal” kids.
Sometimes, you may even face criticisms and judgment from others about your parenting skills from people who don’t understand your child’s disability. You’ll likely feel like an outsider around other parents because of your child’s condition.
This is okay because no parent can go through this without feeling depressed or sorrowful. however, as a parent, you will need to be patient and seek help whenever necessary.
You can’t do it alone!
Although every child with disabilities has unique needs and every family has different coping mechanisms, there are common features that concern parents. Almost every major challenge deal with isolation, especially with children with special needs and their families locating hospitable places and offered the necessary support.
Most often than not the information you need you can obtain from other parents with special needs children. Schools, communities, and extended families will have to learn how to be accommodating and make families with special needs children feel comfortable. Most of these parents are more resilient, stubborn, and companionate than other parents. You can be comforted by the fact that you’re not alone in this. So, don’t hesitate to accept and reach out for help!