Having a child with special needs can have its challenges. Here’s what you can do to make things a little more manageable.
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
Research Early Intervention Programmes
If you’ve been diagnosed during your pregnancy, you’re lucky because you have time to plan for and research early intervention, which can be very helpful. There are a number of government-subsided therapy programmes out there, such as the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC), in which Singaporean children under six years of age get subsidies.
Realise that Your Child Does Not Need “Fixing”
Since your pregnancy can be so consumed by preparing for your “special needs baby”, it can start to feel like you’re giving birth to the diagnosis instead of an actual baby with chubby cheeks, your pretty eyes and your husband’s funny nose. It’s important to remember that your child is not his diagnosis.
It can be tempting to try all kinds of ways to “fix” your
child’s behavioural or developmental problems but
it’s essential to get away from the mindset that there’s
something wrong with your child, and instead accept
and celebrate him for who he is, not who you want him to be.
Don’t Take What Your Doctor Says as Gospel Truth
Parents of special needs children will often tell you that their children are constantly surprising them by doing all kinds of things that their doctors said they wouldn’t be able to do. Your doctor will, in good faith, give you the medical spiel. Your child, however, will refuse to be placed in a predictable box. Enjoy the ride.
Prioritise Your Marriage
This is perhaps the most important point in the list. You and your spouse are now partners in the biggest challenge you have faced together, and you’ll need to truly have each other’s back. It may seem like you don’t have time other than for your child, but the single best thing you can do is to somehow carve it out for each other.
Learn better communication and find more patience
and understanding for each other. Put aside petty
differences if there are any and reprioritise –
you’ll need to be holding each other’s hands tightly in this.
Join a Support Group
There are many communities that can easily be found online, especially on Facebook and Meetup. Join one, or several, and you’ll find that knowing people struggling in the same way you are, can make all the difference in the world.
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