Disabilities can be caused by problems associated during pregnancy or birth, but they may also be due to injuries. When your child is disabled it’s not uncommon for the parents to feel they’ve done something wrong. You may also wonder how to embrace your child’s disability. The following are some ideas to help parents learn to handle the changes and love the child while trying to learn all you can about your child’s disability.
Once a couple finds out their child has a disability their life often comes to a screeching halt. This revelation could occur while the baby is still in the womb, immediately after birth, or after an injury of some type. Quite often the family will fall apart rather than pulling together and learning to survive. However, this doesn’t have to be the course your family takes once you learn of a child’s life-threatening illness or disability.
What determines if your child has a disability? According to medical dictionaries, a disability is a physical or mental impairment which limits one or more senses or activities required to live. This might include lack of hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, learning or caring for oneself.
In many cases, a family will experience added stress both financially and emotionally, as well as a sense of loss for what the child could have been. Parents need to learn as much as they can about the particular disability their child has. You may want to do research on the internet or find other families with children with the same or similar disability. Families who have already been where your family currently is can offer support and knowledge you may not be able to learn another way.
Accept that your family will go through many emotions. You may blame yourself, deny the disability, become depressed, or strike out at those who are closest to you. Experiencing the same emotions as you would with a death are not uncommon, so be prepared. The emotional and physical stress of having a disabled child can be devastating if you don’t have a support network to help you.
Be sure to communicate with one another; don’t keep your emotions and frustrations to yourself. If you have other children, do everything you can to help them understand what’s going on. Even though your disabled child needs you, your other children don’t stop needing you as well.
Seek out people who can help you, whether they are medical professionals, mental health professionals, or families who have gone through this before you. Family counseling may help the family stay together rather than fall apart after you learn of your child’s disability. Your child’s doctor will be able to provide you with support groups or you may find out about them by doing research on the internet.
What’s most important to realize after learning of the disability is that learning how to embrace your child’s disability is a family affair. Everyone will need to chip in to care for the disabled child. And, if you have a support system of family, friends, and families who also have children with the same disability, you should be able to do more than survive; your family should be able to thrive!