Having a disabled loved one can be a very difficult experience, especially if the disabled person is a child or teen. Parents don’t often expect a child will suffer from a disability or impairment and are often confused about what direction to take.
Finding out a child isn’t completely healthy can be devastating. The initial disbelief may turn into negotiation. Parents think that their child simply can’t be ill, leading to feelings of fear, depression, helplessness, disbelief, and sometimes rage.
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can cause parents to fall into depression. Systematic care and looking after their child can bring them peace of mind.
Parents often desperately seek a solution to their newfound situation. Sometimes, they try to find someone to blame for their child’s disability or reject the idea that their child is disabled at all. These actions can be chaotic and lead the parents to try many unorthodox solutions. When these fail, they may feel like giving up.
This is a positive stage where the parents start to work with their child on improving their lives. Parents learn how to take joy in spending time with their child and seek solutions that will make them happy.
The transition between the stages is not defined. Much depends on the level and type of the disability. Things can be different depending on the child’s level of independence, whether the impairment is mental or physical, and whether or not the child needs constant care.
Looking after a disabled child can bring different challenges each day. The carer needs to keep in mind that they are looking after a child who might have not been as lucky as others their age. The child has the right to
A parent who is understanding and allows their child to be independent will teach them self-acceptance and plant a positive attitude in their mind. This can give the child unbelievable strength. Disability can cause fear, shame, or embarrassment but one needs to fight these feelings.
NOTE – it is important to focus on a child’s potential, not their disability. Even children with the most serious conditions can make progress if someone works with them on a regular basis. Those little improvements bring joy and motivation to go further.
Raising a disabled child can be a source of great joy and satisfaction. Bringing up such a child teaches lessons of humbleness, patience, sensitivity, empathy, and devotion. The child repays the effort with their unrestrained love and affection.
If you are raising a disabled child, remember…
You have a right feel as you feel – try to experience your emotions in a conscious way and try to use them constructively.
Regardless of the level and type of disability your child has, perceive them as a child, not a disabled child.
Take some time for yourself – Ask someone to look after your child and do something personal that you enjoy.
If you need psychological or legal help or the need for a professional caregiver, remember that there are associations that are willing to help. Do some research for your area of need and location. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
You are stronger and more experienced than your child but don’t take advantage of that fact. Use this to your child’s advantage. If your feelings overwhelm you, don’t take it out on them. If you have other children that are healthy, keep in mind that they are also impacted. Healthy siblings of a disabled child also need your attention, love, and care. Help them understand that although their sibling requires some extra help, you are always there for them as well.
You are not alone – there are many gatherings for parents of disabled teens such as support groups or online forums. Finding others in a similar situation and sharing experiences can be helpful to you and others.
Your child loves you – remember that the main things they require to be happy are your acceptance, presence, and care.
If your child has urinary incontinence, ensure their comfort by using incontinence management products meant for children or teens, or use the smallest sizes of absorbent products meant for adults.