Supporting Special Needs Parents
As a parent, you’re used to prioritizing your child’s wellbeing. As a special needs parent, you might often be throwing yourself into finding treatments, therapies and educational accommodations that fit your child’s needs. But in our current circumstances, now is the time to center on your own wellbeing as much as your child’s. Your energy keeps the household running. Your calmness helps your child face disruption. Your strength models a healthy way forward.
Finding stability in routine
If your child thrives on regularity, work to establish a new routine for the household with things that are under your control, like family time, outdoor time and rest. But while you’re drawing up the family schedule, don’t forget to make time for yourself.
If you live in a two-parent household, this may mean taking turns getting out of the house for a walk or holing up in another room with a book for 30 minutes. Carve out a few minutes before your child wakes to make coffee, take a shower or message a friend. After your child is asleep, give yourself a little time beyond nighttime cleanup—but also keep an eye on the clock. Getting adequate sleep will help you avoid burnout and give you the strength you need to do it all again tomorrow. Child Mind Institute has resources focusing on mindfulness and the importance of self-care.
Letting go of perfection
While it’s a great goal to maintain good sleep, diet and exercise habits, don’t worry too much if every day doesn’t quite go to plan. You also don’t have to “make the most” of this time by organizing every closet, learning a new language or starting a side business. Caring for your special needs child is enough. Make sure family and friends help contribute to this mindset, and take a step back from relationships that leave you feeling inadequate. Find your community. FOCUS + Fragile Kids has parent resources and support. Understood.org also has resources on how to change expectations and let go of perfection.
Creating harmony in the home
Try prioritizing calming and uplifting activities that do double-duty for you and your child. Depending on your child’s abilities and personality, you might take a family walk, create a group art project or call a friend. Some kids may also enjoy the act of practicing gratitude with you—thinking of what makes you all happy right now instead of what’s hard or stressful. Practicing gratitude doesn’t close you off from accepting grief as well. Don’t be afraid to unload your fears on another adult who is able to listen.
Autism Speaks has a deep list of resources covering everything from caregiver coping techniques to how to handle stress. Parenting resources from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life cover topics like taking care of yourself and teaching coping skills.
Right now, special needs parents need support more than ever. Check in with your loved ones and don’t be afraid to speak up when you need a hand or a break. Parents, you are doing your best. Give yourself a pat on the back and a break where you can find one.
Speak With a Special Needs Lawyer
At Nadler Biernath, we’re happy to be able to support families as they navigate this ongoing crisis. We have experience handling all aspects of special needs. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation (conducted virtually) to discuss how we can help your loved ones. Stay safe and healthy!