Parenting 101: Be Inspired By Your Special Child
It's not easy raising a child, and the burden is doubled when the child has special needs. here is some advice about parenting special children
When Ridzuan Puzi, Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli Othman and Abdul Latif Romly brought home Malaysia's first three gold medals and smashed world records at the recent Paralympics, no one was prouder than their parents, who had seen how they struggled throughout their lives with their disabilities.
Both Ziyad and Latif suffer from learning disabilities, while Ridzuan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one, breaking his parents hearts.
It's not easy raising a child, and the burden is doubled when the child has special needs. There are so many emotions, experiences and worries about whether a child can ever live an independent life.
Its amazing that our three parathletes have soared to such heights, and all of them acknowledge their parents' role in providing unconditional support and love. It is truly amazing the depth of love parents can have for their children.
With that in mind, here is some advice from parents to parents about parenting special children:
Every child is unique
Don't listen to parents of other children who say, ‘Oh, all children are fussy/obsessive/stubborn/lose things etc.’ It will drive you mad. Yes, all children do display these same characteristics but it's about the degree to which they do it that makes the difference and is so hard to explain.
It's OK to ask for help
Don’t be concerned about asking for help – it truly takes a village to raise a child, and even more so when a child has special needs. You would be surprised, your friends and extended family may be more than happy to lend a hand. All you need to do is ask.
Put yourself in your child's shoes
It can be daunting to find empathy when you're already struggling. But your child may be struggling too. Remember that routines are important in everyone's life and missing a step can make you feel ‘not quite right’.
Think about how you feel if you sleep in and don't get to eat breakfast or have a shower. This can be useful when trying to understand why someone with learning disabilities is struggling when they can't complete a routine.
Look after yourself
You need to take care of yourself if you are going to have the strength and energy to take care of someone else. Try to make a little quality time for yourself each day even if this means leaving the person you care for in front on their favourite DVD or TV programme for half an hour.
It won't do them any harm. Make sure you eat and sleep properly, go for regular health checks and try not to worry needlessly. Think positive, because negativity has never solved any problems.
We know that children are more likely to be bullied when they are vulnerable in some way. Children can be cruel in their own ways, and research suggests that disabled children are three times more likely than their peers to be bullied.
It is understandable to feel anxious about bullying; however it is important to remember that not all disabled children are bullied. Don’t assume your child is going to be bullied but be prepared in case they are. There are strategies to find out if your child has been bullied and ways to deal.