If you’re the parent to a special needs child, you probably don’t need to be told what your stressors are. But sometimes it helps to get tips that have worked for other parents. Here are some of our favorites.
- Involve your child in determining how you’ll get organized. For example, take them with you to the store (or let them look online) and let them choose the color of notebooks and binders. Ask them to pick a hamper for their dirty clothes. Allow them to tell you where they’d like to store their school supplies.
- Poor time management. Prepare as much as you can the night before: clothes, breakfast dishes, their backpack. Use timers for showers, breakfast and getting dressed if you need to. There are plenty of free and low-cost apps now that can help you organize everything: from medication reminders to limiting your time on social networks.
- Endless homework time. Homework struggles are typically due to learning struggles, not laziness. Some of the most common that make homework difficult include reading struggles, trouble with math and attention struggles. Nearly 90 percent of learning struggles are due to weak cognitive skills, like memory, processing speed, logic & reasoning, visual and auditory processing and attention. So what can help end the four-hour ritual? One-on-one brain training. Sometimes called “personal cognitive skills training,” the programs use game-like exercises to target and train the skills the brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, and pay attention.
- Lack of friendships. This goes for you and your child. Ideally, you’ll find another parent or two whose kids have some sort of special need—though it doesn’t have to be the same as your child. You can swap tips, frustrations, resources and maybe even babysitting!
- Kids and teens with special needs are often the target of bullying, but they’re also often the bullies themselves! Be sure to ask their teachers about more than just academics. Do they have friends at recess? Do they sit alone at lunch? Are they evasive around older/bigger kids? You can also looks for symptoms that they’ve been bullied: scratches, bruises, torn clothing or backpacks, withdrawal and anxiety.
- Lack of down time. You’re a caregiver. You need support and care for yourself too. Do yoga, go to therapy, take a pottery class, read in the hammock, go on date night or take a bubble bath. If you can, look for resources that offer daycare (e.g., the YMCA) so you can swim or exercise in peace.
- Missing school. Kids with special needs may miss more school than other children due to mental, emotional, financial and physical factors related to their special need. These include things like gastrointestinal issues, anxiety and oversleeping. Look for patterns in the days your child misses school. Are they oversleeping on Monday because they stayed up late on the weekend? Are they experiencing gastrointestinal issues after sleeping at someone’s home and straying from their restricted diet? Offer incentives for your child to go to school on days when they aren’t truly sick and praise them with certificates when they go for an extended period of time with no absences.
- Physical therapists, pediatricians, dentists, counselors, special ed teachers, language pathologists – for some parents, there are a lot of regular appointments to keep up with. Try to schedule several in one day—and choose experts near each other if at all possible—so you don’t feel like you’re constantly spinning your wheels (and your car’s wheels!).
Remember, it’s OK to admit that having a special needs child can be exhausting and frustrating. You’re human and so are your kids. Get some support from people who “get it” and use these tips to help relieve a little bit of stress. Just like chocolate, every little bit helps!
LearningRx specializes in one-on-one brain training. We train cognitive skills through game-like exercises that are both fun and challenging—and we do it with a unique personal trainer approach. LearningRx’s customer satisfaction speaks for itself with an average rating of 9.5 out of 10. With 80 centers across the country, LearningRx is a pioneer in the one-on-one brain training industry. Learn more at www.learningrx.com