Being a single mom is a full-time job with plenty of ups and downs. Now add being the single parents of a special needs child; this can be daunting as it is even more challenging.
However, it is more common than you think, but that does not help with how scared or worried you may feel.
What does it mean if your child has special needs?
Having a special needs child means they experience physical, behavioral, emotional, or learning disabilities. Special needs include Autism, ADHD, Cerebral Palsey and many other disabilities.
When finding out you are the parent of a special needs child, you may feel like the ground has wholly shifted under you. There are plenty of single parents of special needs children who may have felt the same way, but now is the time to take a deep breath because everything will be okay.
There are plenty of resources available to help you raise your special needs child; everything will be alright. Here are some tips to help you as a single parent of a special needs child, YOU’VE GOT THIS!
4 Tips to Help Single Parents of a Special Needs Child
1. Make use of Resources Available to you
There are tons of resources out there to help single parents with special needs children; all you need to do is find them and make use of them. Suppose you suspect that your child has a special need but has not received an official diagnosis. In that case, you must take advantage of the free development screening. The sooner you know, the better.
There are also plenty of free resources available or that your medical insurance may cover after your child is diagnosed. These resources may include different treatments and therapies like; speech therapy, occupational therapy, and many more.
Once you have a diagnosis of your special needs child has been diagnosed, you need to inform yourself about their disability because, after all, information is power!
By informing yourself about your child’s disability, you will gain a deeper understanding of why your child acts and reacts to situations in a specific way. During the research process, you may experience many ‘aha moments.’ Moments where it feels like you finally understand your unique child, and all of the pieces are starting to fit together. This can be a very relieving step, but ultimately, it is essential to understand what your child is experiencing.
When researching, read medical journals to inform yourself about your child’s disability and the expected behaviors, but do not limit yourself to that. Read parenting blogs of parents who have children with the same disability. This is the best way to learn about different experiences.
The research will also inform you about possible actions that you need to take to help your child. Therefore, they’re not only managing their disability but eventually not let it get in the way of them achieving their dreams and goals.
It is essential as a single mom of a special needs child to join a community of parents sharing a similar experience. Many single parents of special needs children are reluctant to join an online special needs parenting community. Mainly because not everyone wants to talk to strangers online about their children. (*Completely understandable*) You are probably thinking, ‘I have tons of friends who I’d rather speak to about my experiences with my child than strangers!‘ and that is completely fine!
Although joining an online special needs parenting community can be relieving for you. These online communities give you access to speaking to other single parents experiencing the same things as you are. There is no need to over-explain yourself when joining this community because they know what it feels like to have a special needs child.
Always keep in mind that even though disabilities may be categorized or labeled as something, this does not mean your child’s experience will be exactly like someone else’s. Each child’s experience is unique.
4. Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is one of the most critical tips this article could give you! As a single parent, your time is precious and limited, and you may not see the importance of focusing on yourself when you have a special needs child. However, this is an essential factor because how you feel affects how your child feels.
This can be emotionally exhausting, from the doctor’s appointments to the special needs classes. It may be a great idea to consider therapy or counseling. This is why it is crucial to managing your emotions and expectations appropriately. Therapy or counseling will teach you how to effectively do this and give you an outlet to talk to a professional about what you are going through. You are experiencing a difficult journey as a parent but try your best not to stress your child out by stressing yourself out too much.
Consider taking up a hobby that could help you release stress while enjoying doing something you love. This can include painting, sewing, running, or even archery! Try to find anything you enjoy doing and feel better after doing it.
It is also important to take a moment to acknowledge that it is okay to feel sad about not being able to live the life that you thought or dreamed you would have. You are not a bad parent for feeling this way, but try to remember that your child’s disability makes them the special and unique person they are.
Important Daily Reminders:
- Celebrate ALL of your child’s wins, big or small! As a parent of a special needs child, it feels great when your child is achieving milestones, and why not celebrate them!
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Forgive yourself, you are not always going to make the right decisions, and that’s okay. This is a learning curve.
- YOU CAN DO THIS!