Anyone living with a disability encounters challenges—physically, mentally, and relationally. But differently-abled children can experience unique obstacles. Navigating school, friendships, extracurriculars, and family life as a growing child is difficult as it is; adding physical or developmental limitations to the equation creates hurdles for both the child and their caretaker.
We want our children to have every opportunity available to them, and hope they never encounter hardships, discrimination, or cruelty. But the fact remains, children with disabilities are likely to experience these things more often than their typically abled peers simply because of their differences. Here are some ways to equip handicapped children and their caretakers so that, when hardships arise, resources are in place to overcome adversity in order to lead a full, capable life.
Disability Support Groups help you feel less alone - Living with a disability can feel lonely—for both the child and their parents. But even the most individual circumstances may not be as unique as they feel. Reach out to those around you. You may be surprised to find other families in similar situations. There is strength in unity. Seek out networks designed for families like yours, and help your child do the same.
Find the Resources you Need - Whether it’s a special school, equipment, medications, or therapies, make sure you identify resources that can help you and your child. Begin with the home, ensuring your house is equipped to adequately serve your child. Companies like 101 Mobility® are designed to provide the help you need to make your home accessible, whether it’s stairlifts, wheelchair ramps, lifts, bath solutions, or automatic doors. These solutions will enable your child to comfortably navigate their space without fear of injury or physical limitations.
Seek Information - It can be scary to hear from a doctor that your child has a disability. Whether it’s present at birth or occurs during adolescence, disabilities can be difficult to learn to cope with, for both the child and their caregivers, and the adjustment may take some time. It’s critical to learn all you can about what you’re dealing with in order to provide the best care, and so that your child is able to learn what they’re capable of, and when to ask for help. Online resources abound, and social media groups allow for parents and children to share information. Knowledge is power. The more you and your child understand their disability, the better they can move through the world with ease.
Share with Others - Just as you are certainly seeking information and resources, other families are likely doing the same for their disabled child. Share your story for others to hear and benefit from. Often, parents of disabled children report that hearing from others in similar situations was a great help, offering peace and understanding.
Celebrate their differences - Like all children, a disabled child is a beautiful, important part of any family. And like any typically abled kid, a disabled child has gifts, talents, and qualities that make them unique and special. Some of those unique qualities include your child’s disabilities, and it’s important to celebrate those things. Talk about your child’s disability with them and with others. Make it clear that their disability isn’t negative, it’s just different. Celebrating differences teaches tolerance, love, and acceptance, and doing so will create a more understanding community around your child.
It’s never easy learning that your child will be living with a disability. There will be a lot to learn and much to do to create a safe, healthy, and capable life for them. But don’t overlook the beautiful ways that your child’s disability may impact your family. While life may look different than you imagined, there are always hidden gifts that come along with a disability. Acknowledge how your child moves through the world differently than others, and teach them to love and accept their perspective. No doubt, there is much to be gained from seeing the world as they do.