Acceptance is an issue with which all adolescents, disabled or not, struggle. However, a child with special needs may find acceptance to be particularly daunting. As a parent, it is important to ensure that this is not the case, and there are a number of ways to do so.
First and foremost, let your child know that they are loved. Spending time with them, and showing them lots of affection makes children feel good about themselves, which is incredibly important to their own self-esteem. Talk to your child about their unique situation, allowing them to ask questions, while offering explanations and insight. Building their personal level of understanding will boost their self-acceptance. It’s also important to explain that not everyone has the same level of understanding, and because of this could inadvertently hurt their feelings. Rather than getting angry or upset, teach your child to approach the situation in the stance of an ambassador. By helping others understand their unique abilities, they are ultimately creating a better educated and more understanding environment for themselves and their disabled peers.
Rather than isolating your child for fear of teasing or differential treatment, engage your child in positive peer interaction. Withholding them from social situations will only hinder their interpersonal development. Find a friendly, accepting environment where your child can play and express themselves with other children. Research camps, school programs and other activities that are designed to accommodate children with special needs. Another option is to organize a playgroup where children with special needs and those without special needs can come together and interact. Plan interesting interactive activities for the children to participate in, and in doing so, explain to the other children what your child’s condition is and teach them the importance of including everyone. These playgroups can teach acceptance, while also helping ease disabled children into social interaction and help them lean to make friends.
Another way to encourage self-acceptance is to show them images of similarly disabled celebrities who have excelled in a wide realm of arenas. This can be a great illustrator that, although they do face unique challenges, their opportunities are as endless as the next person’s. Encourage your special needs child to participate in activities they are interested in, stressing the fact that they can excel as well as anyone. Doing so is a great way to keep your child encouraged and engaged.
Volunteering for the Cause
A final way to promote acceptance, on a more public front, is to become involved with charitable organizations that support children with unique needs. Volunteering your time promotes awareness, increases public understanding, and shows your child how important their needs are to you. Participating in walk-a-thons and other charitable events is great bonding experience for your entire family and provides your child with a sense well-being and accomplishment.