Fostering Independence In Children With Disabilities

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Being a parent to children with a disability is tough, but not for the reasons you first think. Yes, the situation takes some getting used to in the beginning yet the love of a mom always shines through. Before long, it’s second nature in a lot of ways. No, what’s tricky is finding the right balance as they grow up and become adults.

Most moms and dads want to shield their kids from anything potentially harmful, and that’s a long list. Kids with disabilities are prone to hazards others aren’t. Of course, all this does is lead to a lack of independence. Some children don’t get the opportunity to experience growing up because their parents are suffocating.

This is the last thing any parent wants to be described as, yet it’s easy to fall into the trap. Thankfully, there are ways to protect your son or daughter without constantly micromanaging their life. Here are a few musings that might come in handy in the future.

Switch From Control To Support

Controlling the situation is one way for parents to be certain their child is safe. And, they might not be overly bothered because it makes their life easier. However, by doing this, you’re preventing them from making decisions and taking control of their life. You should support their decisions as they age, not contradict and overrule them.

Making the switch when you’re so involved in your child’s life is tough but it’s not impossible. As always, it’s vital to start with the small things and work upward. Then, the change isn’t too dramatic and won’t have negative side-effects. One thing supportive parents do is to ask and not to tell. Posing a question encourages them to make a decision and organize their affairs.

It’s a simple thing yet it’s incredible how powerful a tool it can be for parents and kids alike.

Build A Support Network

Parents tend to pick up the slack and do the majority of the hard work. As well as seeing it as your responsibility, moms and dads like to feel as if they involved. There’s nothing worse than feeling as if you’ve somehow not been there for your son or daughter in their time of need.

So, a support network might not already be in place. However, it can make a massive difference to their lives as it gives them more people to lean on. When there is only a handful of friends or family on which to rely, it cuts down on their ability to do stuff. What if you’re busy? What if nobody is available to help? A support network of outside sources, such as registered nurses who are on 24-hour call, will open up new avenues.

In the interest of letting them make decisions, let them pick the people with whom they feel the most comfortable.

Give Them The Tools

People hear the word “disability” and think the worst. Parents, even though they understand their children’s limitations, are the main culprits. The idea of them getting behind the wheel of a car, for example, is out of the question. What if something happens? What if there is an episode?

There is no way to predict the future, which is why it’s important to let go. Nowadays, cars are modified for people with disabilities. That means they are lower down and don’t have manual gearboxes. Some even come with a black box so that we help with car accident reconstruction if there is an incident. All the bases are covered for your kid’s safety, and that means you shouldn’t hold them back.

One of the worst ways to stifle their independence is to stop them from doing things most kids do. Driving is a basic right and skill for seventeen-year-olds, and it should be for your child too.

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Be Positive

There is a pattern throughout this advice – it’s based on being positive. The reason for that is that emotions are contagious. If you are happy and encouraging, your children will embrace those feelings and incorporate them into their life. On the other hand, they’ll tend to play it safe if you’re a worrier.

Not taking risks is necessary at times, but you don’t want your child to miss out on experiences because of their attitude. With this in mind, try and keep yours check. Sure, there will be times when you have to think about their health and put your foot down. But, for everything else, it’s important to say yes and let them enjoy themselves.

After all, happiness often fosters independence.