Tips for Married Couples having Special Needs Children
Starting a life with another person is hard, and welcoming a child into the world can take things to a whole new level of crazy. If you have a child who has special needs, life can indeed become very stressful, as you will have to give that extra bit of care and attention as well as deal with the social implications.Here are some tips for married couples with special needs children.
Why the euphemism? Doesn’t ‘special needs’ mean my child is disabled?
In layman’s terms, children with special needs generally have a disability - physical, mental or emotional - that affects their development. The truth, however, is that ‘disabled’ is an oversimplification. ‘Special needs’ is an umbrella term used for clinical diagnosis: it can refer to a wide variety of conditions that range in severity and source. Down syndrome, blindness, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism and cerebral palsy are some of the diagnoses that would lead to your child be classified as having special needs. Many of these are very common disorders.
Things to keep in mind if your child has special needs
It is normal for parents of children with special needs to be disheartened by the fact and blame themselves, or be cynical about it. However, you should remember that your child is, after all, a child. While being sensitive to your emotions through their natural empathy, he or she will not understand the cause of these feelings. This can lead to negative relationship development between you and your children. As far as possible, you should treat your special needs child like you would any other child.
Life as a family
It is pretty common for people to feel uncomfortable about approaching and interacting with someone with special needs children, and to inadvertently express this discomfort through awkward statements. This is bound to happen sooner or later, and is definitely not something you will appreciate. Living as a married couple with a special needs child is something deeply personal, as you have consciously decided to raise your child, to accept their quirks and handicaps and help them grow to the best of your ability. At the root of things, it is what every married couple does when they have (or adopt) children. The journey, however, is challenging, and it is capable of having a great impact on your marriage. Raising a special needs child will leave you exhausted after hours of therapy sessions of different sorts, cleaning up after and interacting with your little one. Hearing tales of your friends and family members’ kids doing things at age one that your child is unable to at age four can make you bitter, jealous and alone. Talking about your child and his or her achievements may also be difficult. But the pride when they succeed in doing something new will be all that much sweeter.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that patience is key when dealing with children, and you should ensure that you do not ignore your spouse or your marital relationship: you can’t care for them unless you care for yourself. Put aside the ‘should be’s, and accept your child as he or she is: it will make things that much easier.