If you are the friend or family member of a parent with a special needs child, you are probably in awe of his or her strength, while at the same time wondering what you could possibly do to help. Fortunately, there are several small, yet dramatic, ways in which you can assist your loved one without putting too much of a strain on your own family.
Try these suggestions, for instance:
Volunteer to Babysit
If you are comfortable with the special needs child, offer to babysit for a few hours or an evening so your loved ones can go out. They may need a date night, or simply the freedom to go outside and take a walk. Fresh air and exercise outside the home will surely do them some good. Parenting isn’t easy for any of us, so imagine the additional frustrations that parents of special needs children endure on a daily basis. This time to regroup is a wonderful gift!
Give Attention to the Siblings
Through no fault of the special needs child, his or her siblings receive minimal attention. So, to help the parents out, take the typical children out for a sleepover, shopping trip, or an ice cream sundae. You can even offer to bring them to games and practices if their parents have to focus on their special needs brother or sister.
Include the Special Needs Child in Activities
If your children are playing with your loved one’s children and the special needs child does not feel included, help him or her to fit in. Accommodate the child so he or she does feel left out. Simplify games and activities so everyone can play and participate.
Learn as Much as You Can
If you do not understand a child’s disorder or diagnosis, read up on it before you have the occasion to interact with the child. If you don’t have time to read, watch videos online, or listen to podcasts to learn as much as you can. Ask the parents questions to make sense of the situation, if you don’t understand. They likely won’t be insulted. They may even feel flattered that you care enough to want to know more about their child.
Sometimes being a shoulder to cry on is the best help you can provide. Do not offer advice, if you have never been in his or her shoes. Simply be supportive when speaking about his or her child. Accentuate the positive and let the parent know that he or she is doing his or her best, while you avoid offering pity. Pity just increases the negative feelings he or she is experiencing.
In conclusion, there are many things that you can do to support the parents of children with special needs. The items on this list should allow you to lend a helping hand when it is needed.