One of my favourite words is appreciation.
Appreciation of ourselves, appreciation of what we have in our lives and most important the gift of our children. No two children (even twins in my case!) are the same and they all have such different personalities and different needs in life. All children bring such special gifts and love to a family even more so does a child with additional needs.
Some of your extended family members may not really be aware of what goes on in your home and maybe it’s up to you to bring that awareness and joy to them. Here are some suggestions for you to ask for a little bit of help or time to yourself, remember people genuine want to help they may be just afraid or do not know what to do.
Why should you do this?
Better communication, more bonds will be made and your child with have a bigger circle of friends in their life and you may not realise it now, however, you need it to. “No man is an island.”
- Suggest a friend or family member to call to your house for a cup of tea and make sure your child is there at that time as so he/she can be seen in their own environment.
- Talk about your child to your friends, we all love to speak positively about our children and our lives, however tell them about part of your day that may be challenging and ask for their suggestion. I.e. If you were in that situation what would you do?
- Asking for help a little at a time. Would it be possible for you to come over for 1 ½ hours on Wednesday afternoon to stay with David while I could get to the supermarket. This is not being selfish and it also gives your child time to bond with someone else. Start off small to begin with, another suggestion would be, would you collect David from school today.
- Explain to family members about your child’s condition. Fear factor is one of the obstacles in the way as people are afraid to help in case an accident happens, tell them it was all new to you too and this is what to do, if the situation arises. Share information, books, and other resources with people who are genuinely interested.
- Include your child with special needs as much as possible. Find out what’s going on in the community, if something is on in café, phone up and say I’d love to come along with my child is it wheelchair accessible. Need a wheelchair ramp? Gluten-free food? These aren’t difficult to come by for people who really want their friends to participate.
- Everyone needs a break. Offer to mind your friend’s children why they go out for an evening, and hopefully they will do the same for you and keep this up at least once a month. Don’t think for a minute that your putting that person under pressure, people want to help even if it’s only a couple of hours to escape for a cup of coffee or dinner.
- Tell people if you or your child has a melts down! has an accident, or something equally embarrassing happens, explain to the person what is happening or ask them to put on the kettle for you, don’t however push it under the mat or don’t let them leave in the middle of it, (a tantrum) explain it afterwards. And explain that you were glad they were there when that happened as sometimes you feel embarrassed or maybe that having that person there gave you a little extra support.
- This tip is so important. Relationships need to be developed and worked on, keep that commutation open always. Invite friends, relations to your house; ask them to attend physio or speech therapy with you. Etc.
- Explain to people that you may be late attending an event as things can happen at the last minute or your child could be having an off day or that maybe your child can’t handle something unfamiliar. Explain the case as best you can, don’t lie and pretend everything is ok, explain the situation. You may be afraid to do this in case your child will not asked again, in fact the oppose often happens the person is so understanding that they may suggest coming to their house on a different date at a quitter time or go somewhere where your child is more comfortable.
- As a parent try to understand, what you want for your child may not always be what your child wants (even though you know what is best). If for example your child does not like summer camp as in my case, and I felt that he should go as he was mixing with children in a safe environment, it was not for him and he much preferred one-to-one, try to understand (and I know it can be difficult sometimes, it took me years to figure this one!) but I am not standing in his shoes.
Then as I started the article, appreciate what they have done.
Go on, do it now.