“Being a parent is hard. Being a parent to a child with extra needs is extra hard,” says one mother who has faced the challenges that lie ahead for you. However, she has some good news as well — some extra good news. The experience is very rewarding, filling you with pride and passion. Let that be your motivation as you navigate the difficulties imposed by your little one’s physical or mental impairment. And remember that those challenges won’t be so daunting if you know what they are in advance and prepare for them ahead of time.
Here’s a list of what you can expect to face in the years ahead, along with some advice on how to forge through with loving grace and a smile.
And that’s likely to be great if you don’t research your child’s disability, understand the difficulties, and take the steps you need to take to overcome them. Parent Companion has some helpful advice in that regard, and it begins with talking to other parents in your position, then asking doctors and professionals for some information and guidance.
Depending on your child’s disability, it may be difficult for them to do things that seem simple to you, like going to the bathroom, brushing their teeth, or getting up and down the stairs. However, those tasks can be overcome if you’ve adapted your home properly. That may mean enhancing mobility for easy wheelchair access to every room or improving the lighting.
Even if you settle into a healthy rhythm at home, questions might remain about your child’s education and social development. This all begins much earlier than you think with occupational therapy, which would help the little one advance their fine-motor skills and process information they receive through their senses. The number of disabled children in South Dakota hovers at around eight percent off all students between the ages of three and 21. Your local school board can help you identify services that can help.
All of this effort is likely to take its toll on your own physical health if you neglect it. Now more than ever, you need to maintain a balanced diet, squeeze in some exercise whenever possible, and manage your stress. As for the latter, you’ll find that admitting your limits and keeping realistic standards are important to keep you calm and centered.
The Need for Help
A time will come when you just can’t do it alone. That’s fine because you shouldn’t have to. Set up a support network involving family and friends who are ready and willing to help out with daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning so that you can concentrate on childcare. You may also want to consider home health care or a qualified sitter to share the workload. The South Dakota Agency for People With Disabilities lists several organizations that provide assistance, including childcare, and social service programs, for special needs individuals.
A good health policy would help greatly with medical expenses, though the American Baby and Child Law Centers say that “plans intended to cover the medical costs of a child with a disability are often not as robust as they should be.” The legal experts suggest looking into private options, including indemnity and managed care policies or public options like Medicaid.
Worries About the Future
You can settle the worst of those by writing your will. Be clear about the distribution of your assets along with the guardianship of your child. Setting up a trust will offer them even greater financial security, as would burial insurance, which offers a payout to cover funeral services as well as outstanding medical debt.
They can arise for reasons completely unrelated to your child’s medical expenses, so it’s best to be ready even if you’ve chosen a sound insurance policy. A contributor with Forbes recommends setting up an emergency fund by saving up at least three months of living expenses and putting them in an online savings account separate from your primary one.
That should set you up for success no matter how hard it gets, and it will get hard. Stay positive and bear in mind that with every setback, there’s a leap forward and a reason to be happy.
Visit SDParent.orgfor more information on resources available to South Dakota families with special needs children.