Parenting a Child with Special Needs
Tips & Advice on Parenting a Child with Special Needs
Whether we admit it or not, parenting a child with special needs can often be challenging and overwhelming. But there’s nothing more fulfilling than overcoming obstacles alongside your child, as these life learning experiences will muster up strength and compassion you didn’t know you had. Every day is a new experience, and HelpingCanadians would like to share our experiences & advice on parenting a child with special needs. As one of Canada’s top resources dedicated to parents & caregivers, we hope our tips will provide a clear course for your special needs parenting journey.
One of the most important and tricky concepts in parenting a child with special needs is to keep expectations realistic, without setting limitations. A parent should provide all the opportunities for their child to reach their potential, but that varies from child to child. One child’s maximum potential may be an NHL hockey star, while another’s may be living a happy, semi-independent life. And that’s okay. As a parent of a special needs child, you should never let your child feel limited by their disability or condition, while giving them the freedom to find personal success in their life. Don’t forget to temper expectations for yourself, too. You’re doing the best you can with no defined roadmap to follow, and you’re going to make mistakes. You’re human after all (though it can be argued parents of special needs children are superhuman)!
Special needs parenting is a team effort.
You’re not alone raising your special needs child – there are plentiful resources in Canada that can provide both family and disability support. For example, we regularly assist Canadian families with their disability benefits, helping them qualify, apply for, and claim their Disability Tax Credit or Canada Child Benefit. Both programs are designed to alleviate financial stress via payments from the Canada Revenue Agency. To learn if your child qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit, contact us now!
Your city may have services for children with special needs that are free to access. For example, the City of Toronto offers a number of inclusive childcare services and programs. With Canada being the multicultural mosaic it is, there are abundant resources for immigrant families raising children with special needs, too. You can access a wealth of links on CMAS’ official website, Canada’s leading organization focusing on immigrant and refugee childcare.
Self-care is important, too.
With so much focus on your child, it’s easy to forget about your own wellbeing. You deserve to be cared for too! You can ask a family member or older child to pitch in with some chores or cooking, take an afternoon off at the spa, have your date night, or curl up on the couch with your favourite book. Whatever you need to do to reset and refresh your mind shouldn’t be an afterthought – there’s no shame in a much-needed reprieve from the demands of parenting a special needs child!
‘Laughter is the best medicine.’
There’s a reason that line is cliché. Sharing laughs with your special needs child can feel like the weight of the world being lifted off your shoulders. You can rent a funny movie, read a funny book, and most importantly, find humour in your parenting escapades. Sure, you could get angry and tearful about your child using your white walls as a blank canvas for their fingerpainting project, or you could pull out the camera and snap a picture you’ll laugh together about some day. It’s all about perspective!