There are an estimated 93 to 150 million children living with some form of disability, according to Learning Generation. Parenting can be challenging, but the goal is ultimately the same for everyone: to raise well-adjusted adults that will inherit society. However, when a child has additional needs, parents must reframe how they must support and promote independence. So what should be done?
Being the parent of a child with a disability will require you to fill different roles. Nicole, the creator of My Boy Blue, and mother of six-year-old Riley, says that parenting a child with additional needs has you be a medical expert and a therapist, for starters. Teaching independence is tricky, and that’s why it’s crucial for parents to seek guidance from support groups and professionals. Medical professionals, in particular, carry knowledge that can give you a better idea of how to approach readying your child for independence and adulthood.
Start With The Basics
A disability can significantly hamper simple self-care tasks, so it’s best to start with the basics like toilet training. A study regarding toilet training children with disabilities found that cerebral palsy significantly delays motor and postural ability, which draws out the average age of toilet training to 3.9 and 3.8 years of age. You can help your child become more comfortable and confident about their toilet training through a training aid like the reinforcement system whenever your child successfully relieves themselves in the scheduled potty time. You can also use a programmable smartwatch to help establish timed bathroom sessions to normalize the process.
Give The Child Control
One of the biggest difficulties for parents that care for children with additional needs is knowing when to stop hovering. When your child’s care was entirely down to you in the past, granting them room for agency can be a difficult step. This is absolutely necessary, however. Start with prompting their opinion on what food to eat, what books to read, and what clothes to wear. Doing this regularly can make them more comfortable with making small decisions over little things that they can control. Gradually, increasing the degree of decision-making can ease the child into having more control over themselves and their choices.
Guiding a child with a disability toward being a functioning adult can be an intimidating task. This is why it’s important that parents obtain suitable guidance so that they may, in turn, guide their children toward independence and adulthood. The road may be rough and long, but the truly important thing is to take one day at a time