Building a healthy supportive environment for your disabled child involves raising awareness on a variety of levels. Not only do parents need to supplement their own knowledge and understanding, but it is also important to educate family members, reach out to individuals at the child’s school, share information with classmates, and most importantly, help the child them-self to increase their own level of awareness.
As parents and primary caregivers, understanding a child’s needs is fundamental.This is particularly true of disabled children, as their physiological needs are specific and unique. Whether it’s reading credible medical articles or personally consulting professional specialists, educating yourself with the information available is an invaluable tool. Medical professionals are expert sources of information. As experts, they can provide first-hand insight into providing the best physical care and mental support, ultimately creating an environment where your child can thrive.
Other parents of disabled children are another excellent source of support and first-hand knowledge. It’s often difficult to know what questions to ask or even what information is relevant. However, parents who have already been down that road are an excellent resource. In turn, they will probably find it rewarding to share their experience and knowledge.
Once parents have obtained all the relevant information, the next step is to share what they’ve learned with the rest of the family. Specifically, siblings need to understand what it means for their brother or sister to have special needs and what they can do to help. Whether it’s a skeletal or physiological disability, try using illustrative tools like diagrams, or even plastic skeletal structures. This will engage your kids and provide them with a hands-on educational experience.
Once your other children understand the physical differences restricting their disabled sibling, it is easier for them to understand limitations and realize ways they can help. It’s key to applaud and encourage helpful behavior, while also teaching your children to encourage their disabled sibling to do as much as possible independently.
Awareness outside of the home is another facet of enormous importance. Reaching out to your child’s teachers is a great way to raise awareness in a more public forum. Start by requesting a parent-teacher conference. In doing so, you can thoroughly explain the specifics of your child’s unique needs and illustrate the most effective ways to provide constructive support.
You may want to schedule a time to talk to fellow classmates, and even their parents. In doing so, you can help your child’s constituents understand what exactly makes their classmate different, and what they, as friends, can do to help and support them. Often times, understanding is the most important tool for children to effectively process unique situations. Create an interactive activity to teach classmates how to respectfully help your child, while also encouraging their independence. This process can be as rewarding for your child as for their classmates.
Building awareness is a process, and involves a variety of facets, all of which are well worth the end result: a more fulfilling life for you, your family, and most importantly, your disabled child.
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