Lady with disabilities shares particular wants parenting recommendation
If your child has a disability, any information inundated with you can be both a blessing and a burden. You can find the right doctors to guide you and your child to the right places for help, but as you do this, your whole family may be worrying about the future.
My parents were just like you. They have a daughter with a disability. Multiple disabilities. Because of her vision loss, she does not see the whole picture. She bumps into walls and her feet are not straight. Her cerebral palsy and loss of vision make life difficult. But she knows how lucky she is to be able to write this article in the first place.
When I was born, it took me a while to be diagnosed with any medical conditions because doctors thought I was just late in development. At one year old, the motor problems my mom had noticed over the past six months finally had a label.
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When I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 1994, there were no early intervention centers to accommodate me. The existing centers focused on the fragile child with a constellation of medical problems. I didn’t fit that description. I went to occupational therapy once a week and physiotherapy twice a week. Then my parents enrolled me in an inclusive preschool when I reached eligible age.
If I hadn’t received physiotherapy, I might be sitting in a wheelchair today instead of walking with help as I do now. I believe therapy has helped my cardiac and bariatric health and has given me a lot of freedom, including something as simple as being able to drive in any vehicle.
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I have three important pieces of advice for parents of children with disabilities:
1. Teach your child to represent themselves. Be your child’s voice for as long as necessary, then teach them to stand up for themselves. You should explain to her why she is unique and how to be assertive without being mean. This can be a challenge for a social newcomer or someone who is having difficulty communicating. So, before you move on to other figures of authority, let them try their loved ones first.
2. Praise your child’s perseverance. Many children, especially young ones, are at the magical thinking stage where the concept of time is difficult to grasp. This can mean that your child is expecting results from their efforts faster than their abilities allow. It is important to show your child that you trust them to be successful. Acknowledge its progress, no matter how small it may seem. This will help him build his confidence.
3. Live in the present. When life becomes overwhelming, it is important to realize that the past does not have to determine the present moment or anything in the future. Nobody has a future set in stone. Just assuming that what is happening won’t last forever can alleviate the emotional burden. This acceptance allows you to think more positively, which has a positive effect on all actions.
The bottom line is that you are a great parent. You are already making a difference by loving your child for who they are. Whether or not your child can express their love, they’ll still notice everything you do.
Melanie Reach is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Services from Wright State University in Ohio. During the summer she worked as an intern at the St. Francis Children’s Center.