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Coping with a special need diagnosis.

When you find out you are becoming parents, or your family is growing, you just might imagine having a perfect little bundle of joy, with lots of fun, laughs, and maybe a few sleepless nights.

It is normal for parents to go through grief when hearing they have a child with special needs. They can go through different stages. Denial, anger, guilt, fear, and depression, are common in parents when a diagnosis is confirmed. Parents often have a perception of what their child is going to be like before they are even born. And now those perceptions, dreams and aspirations may seem a long way off from the looming reality. A special needs child may have a very different life to what you imagined. However, this doesn’t stop children having a happy life. Special needs children and their families will be going on a different path, and will get used to a different “new normal”. Sometimes the grief felt by parents is not just a once of experience. Below are some tips to help parents cope and have a wonderful life with their special need’s child:

  • Take time to grieve, no matter what the diagnosis is its important to think and go over the what if’s for your child, the dreams you had for them and the life you imagined they would have. Its an important step in healing yourself.
  • Find appropriate resources. Most parents will go straight to the internet to find out all they can about the diagnosis. Please be careful, information on the internet can be very misleading and daunting. Every special needs child has a different story including your own. Don’t focus to much on these stories. Instead try seeking advice from: pediatricians, specialists, and counselors. Ask your doctor for the contacts of other families with children with the same diagnosis. Gaining the right information will help you feel in control. You need to know that you are not alone in this battle, even it may feel like it at the beginning. There is a whole community around you to get you through.
  • Talk to your friends and family. When you feel comfortable share information about your child, its always good to talk. Don’t bottle things up. Family and friends are happy to help out where they can. And are happy to be a shoulder to lean on.
  • LOVE your child like any other, focus on the fact that they are your child before looking at them as a special need. Get down to their level and interact with them.
  • Get therapy as soon as possible, this will only help your child have a better start to life.
  • When therapists and professionals come to your house to work with your child, take in as much as you can so you can implement these techniques they use.
  • Accept the speed and the way that your child develops. Every child picks up and learns thing in their own time
  • Keep records of your child’s development and changes in them. Make sure you keep track of the dates, days and times…this will help doctors when accessing the condition and changes in your child.
  • You are your child’s champion, you know your child better then anyone else, you spend the most time with your child. The more you know about what resources are available the better choices you can make.
  • Get support. Many parents find it useful to join a support group, they will provide you information and the understanding you and your family need. Early intervention programs can also be a good source of support.

Parenting can be one of the most difficult jobs, and one of the most rewarding ones as well, especially watching them grow and develop. Special needs children bring with them extra challenges, and pressures that you may not expect to come with parenthood. However, they also bring forward tremendous joy when every milestone holds a special significance for you as the parent. Remember there is the support and guidance out there to help. And no matter what their diagnosis, every child is special to their parents.

Below are a few support groups that you might find helpful:

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