For many parents of children with special needs, resilience during COVID-19 is your secret weapon. From the day you learned of your child’s unique challenges, you’ve been problem-solving and overcoming the unexpected for the benefit of your child.
Melissa Winchell, a parent of a child with special needs said in the CBS article The Other Coronavirus ‘Front Line’: At Home With Special Needs Children, “I think this sense that nothing is permanent, that life’s not a given, that life’s so fragile – that’s, I think, what disabled families know.” She continued, “That’s the wisdom that we’re bringing into the experience of quarantine and into COVID-19.”
It’s with this attitude that parents of children with special needs are rising to the challenge of this pandemic. Here are 3 reasons why parents of children with special needs deserve a round of applause during COVID-19.
1. You’re Finding Creative Ways to Stay Connected with Your Support System
School closures due to COVID-19 have many parents juggling the roles of both parent and teacher, but as a parent of a child with special needs, you’re also juggling the roles of nurse, therapist, social worker, and more.
While most parents of special needs kids aren’t certified special education teachers or physical therapists, you’re still stepping into the roles when necessary and connecting with your children’s therapists and teachers through online conferencing systems like Zoom.
Dr. Mark Bertin, a developmental pediatrician in Pleasantville, New York notes in the article The Pandemic’s Toll on Children With Special Needs and Their Parents, “Some kids with more significant disabilities, their only social life is going to school[…]”
Special needs parents recognize the importance of socialization for your kid’s mental health, and your own mental health. Whether it’s an online meetup or a supervised socially distant get-together, you’re doing what it takes to keep your child’s spirits up and stay connected during this challenging time.
2. You’re Recreating Your Child’s Routines at Home
The Mayo Clinic advises parents of children with special needs during quarantine to “think back to strategies that have worked for you in the past. Go back to the basics.” For many parents, this means creating consistent and familiar schedules at home that mimic the school day.
As a special needs parent, you’re no stranger to adaptive equipment, printed visuals, and timers in your home. And with some guidance from teachers and therapists, you’re stepping up to the plate to make your child’s home experience as familiar and predictable as possible.
3. You’re Managing Additional Stress and Uncertainty
Plenty of parents of children with special needs are managing the additional stress of caring for a medically fragile child. “One of the fights for us is keeping the ‘front line’ for us here at home instead of possibly having to go to the hospital,” said Chris DeBatt, father of a medically fragile child. “So we’re being very, very careful with the social distancing measures.”
Compounding the stress is the concern for who can step in and care for your child if you, as the primary caregiver, become sick. But, as a seasoned special needs parent, you’ve likely already spent considerable time growing your network of qualified care providers which is important now more than ever.
Even during these times of increased stress, you should remember that as a parent of a child with special needs you are familiar with uncertainty and have likely developed a keen resiliency. And while you may be better equipped than most, it’s important to manage your stress so you can keep up the amazing work you’re doing for your child.
Our Mindfulness During Quarantine series offers some great tips for managing personal stress.
We applaud you for tapping into your strengths during this unique time, but encourage you to reach out to our child therapists Abby Henry or Christina Paulsen should you find you need additional support.
Jessica Korzyniewski contributed to this article.
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