Posted by: coachingparents | September 6, 2007

Creating Success for the Child with Special Needs

By Lisa Simmons

Creating success for the child with special needs starts with parents who create an environment where they can feel competent and confident. This kind of environment has 3 primary ingredients:

Ingredient #1 – A Personal Network of Support
Dealing with the emotional turmoil of a new diagnosis is difficult, however it certainly isn’t the last emotional strain that parents of a child with special needs will face. As a parent, you will need to develop your own ongoing, personal support system. And remember, “Wider is better”! Often just identifying and writing down all the support available can help you feel less isolated and more positive. Plus, it can help to create a visual reminder that help is always available so post your list where you will see it during times of stress.

Need help getting your list started? Consider:

Local professionals:
*Family doctor
*Physical therapist
*Occupational therapist
*Speech therapist
*Case manager
*Parent advocacy trainer
*Special education or resource teacher
*Inclusion specialist
*504 Coordinator

Mentor Programs such as Parent-to-Parent Programs

Learning Opportunities:
*Parent networking weekends
*Partners in Policymaking Training
*Distance Learning Classes

Online Opportunities:
*Discussion lists
*Forums/bulletin boards
*Chat rooms
*Ask the Expert consultations online

Note: There are literally thousands of discussion lists, forums, newsletters, and experts available on virtually any diagnosis you could name. To find a variety to choose from, check out our resource directory or just type the following into your favorite online search engine: “the diagnosis + type of support”.

For example: “ADHD + discussion list” produced 27,800 choices in less than 1 second at my favorite search engine – Google.

Close to home:
*Extended family members
*Friends & neighbors
*A favorite book or parent guide by a recognized expert in the field.

Ingredient #2 – A Problem Solving System
Even the most comprehensive training cannot possibly anticipate every challenge that you may face as your child with special needs grows and develops. Because of this truth, an essential skill for you as a parent is to develop the ability to SOLVE PROBLEMS as they come up.

You need to know:
=> Who to call
=> Which experts to trust
=> How to do your own research and explore your options

The idea behind using a Problem Solving Folder is to:

Help you identify all of the help readily available, organize contact information so that it will be readily available in a few days or a few months when it is needed, and remind you that you aren’t alone.

Click here for instructions on how to create your own Problem Solving Folder
Ingredient #3 – A Stress Management Strategy
As one parent put it: “I don’t suffer from stress……….I’m a carrier!”

For most parents raising a child with special needs — stress isn’t a possibility, it’s a CONSTANT. So it’s vital that you have stress management techniques that WORK FOR YOU and that you are comfortable using. Times of high stress are not the time to be “learning” a new technique. Practice your stress management system of choice regularly so you can PULL IT OUT & USE IT when needed.

A simple story that illustrates this point well is the emergency procedure reviewed before every trip on an airplane. You know the one,  “In case of sudden loss in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling. Put your mask in place and then assist those traveling with you who are very young, elderly, or disabled.”

Airlines recognize one very important fact – if you are incapacitated you are unable to help anyone else. Successful parenting is much the same. If you are physically exhausted, mentally foggy, and emotionally overwhelmed – you will be unable to parent your child effectively or meet their special needs.

Your ability to create success for your child may very well depend on your willingness to build an environment of support for yourself. Don’t shortchange your child or yourself in these critical areas.


About The Author …
Lisa is the director of the Ideal Lives Project. An Online center dedicated to supporting parents and the successful inclusion of students with special needs. She is also the specialty trainer for the Academy of Coaching Parents in the area of Special Needs.


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