CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS
How to Care for the Kids with Developmental Issues
Developmental delays or disorders are those that are seen in children who, for some reason or another, do not reach their milestones at the expected times. Autistic disorders are one example of developmental disorders. Developmental milestones refer to a set of functional skills and abilities that the child learns at specific age periods. Examples include learning to walk and talk or reason or to problem-solve and handle social interactions. For most parents, one of the hardest things to accept and to endure is to find out that their child has a permanent condition such as these disorders. For most parents, their first reaction is to try to deny the problem, as if it never happened. Some even try to hide the truth from others. Very few will deal with it with an open heart and a lot of courage.
However, all these parents will be rightfully worried and even scared. They wonder if there is any hope. Some blame themselves for not bringing to the world, a normal child. Others become angry at life, the world, or the almighty. How could God allow this to happen to us? They ask. Some parents, after learning about their child’s condition, may lose their trust in the world or in themselves.
However, regardless of how strong their emotions are and how difficult it is for them to accept the bitter truth about their child’s illness, soon they have to stop wondering and start accepting the truth, and looking for ways to care for their kids. At this point you have to keep in mind that this is the same child you always had, the same one you cared for and loved before. These kids are still as dear and special as always. What happened was not their fault. They still deserve to be cherished and loved.
Your next step would be to gather information about the child’s condition, available treatments, and community resources. You may be surprised by how much you can do to help your child to improve. Or you may be dismayed by prospects of limited choices and alternative you may have. No matter what you find out, the important thing is to first accept your child “as is,” and then try to help your kid to thrive as much as possible.
To understand better about the condition of your child, you can ask your doctor, do research in the library, or you can surf the Internet. But, also do talk to other parents who have kids with similar diagnosis. You may also want to join a support group of parents of kids with special needs in your area. There are also state and national organizations that will give you specific information about your child’s condition and related diseases. In my last article, I included some resources for children with developmental delays. Parents of kids with special needs may also find the following website very useful:
You also need to help your child to learn about his/her condition. Make sure you teach them from the standpoint of power and self-control. In other words present the information in such a fashion that the child feels like the more they know the more power or control they may have. Do not frighten them with information. Instead enable them to cope with their problem more confidently and more realistically.
Do the best you can to learn and to apply your leanings. But, at the same time whenever reasonably possible try to treat your ailing child just like a normal kid. Do not emphasize their weaknesses just be aware of them and accept your kids as a whole person with all their strength and vulnerabilities.
While parents of special-needs children are coping with their kids’ limitations, research continues to explore new treatments and opens up new territories for scientific discoveries. That means many of these conditions may soon be more or less treated. But, until that time these parents need to do their homework.
They need to be aware of the government and community resources available to them. Federal legislatures such as the Individuals with Disability and Education Act and several related Public Laws provide that children and adolescents with mental retardation or developmental disorders are entitled to free and appropriate intervention. Community programs including behavioral interventions in structured settings can be used to teach children interpersonal, self-care, leisure, vocational, or survival skills. Such behavioral interventions can also address disruptive behaviors such as temper tantrums, self-injurious behaviors, defiance, aggression at others or non-compliance.
Many children with special needs also have behavioral problems. They need to be involved in a variety of social groups and recreational activities with proper supervision, as part of their educational program. Theses children need to participate in those activities along with non-disabled peers to learn social skills that can also help increase their self-esteem. These activities may include visiting points of interests such as the museums, or the zoo, participating in sports or going to ball games, birthday parties, or movies.
Furthermore, based on the type of problem your children may have, you can develop individualized plans to help them deal with their motor movement difficulties or practice appropriate interpersonal interactions and so on. Do not allow your child to spend his/her time passively. Instead get them to communicate with peers, teachers, and family members. Find out what interests the child and use that to get your kid to engage in proper communication or interaction with you and others. For these children to learn a new behavior, they need to have a motivating urge to do it. Thus, do not attempt to have them memories social scripts such as how to say hello or good morning. Rather, you need to engage them in ways that they feel interested or provoked to do it. Once you get a feeling to go with the act, the child begins to interact with others in a purposeful and non-robotic manner.
While caring for their children with special needs, it is also very important not to forget about the needs of parents too. They also should to attend to their own needs such as socializing, personal time, rest, medical or emotional needs, etc. When their own needs are met, these parents can be more effective in their parenting. A good outlet for parents to express and discuss their feelings is social or support groups. Some parents who have difficulties coping with their kid’s problems may need individual or family therapy or parent training.
Do not be afraid to talk to professionals in the field and to ask for help. Many doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers or teachers who are knowledgeable in this field and have the desire to help these children and their families. For some parents accepting the fact that their child has disabilities in certain areas and may always have special needs is hard to swallow. Many of them feel like they have lost a child. For some it may takes them years to adjust. The truth, however, is that you never lost that child. You only lost an image of a child that you thought you had. What you really have right now is loveable and worthy of your care.