Being a parent is stressful in any family. When you have a special needs child, stress levels can go even higher.
You find yourself juggling with more than getting the kids to soccer practise after school, meeting with teachers on a limited basis and breaking up occasional sibling spats. A special needs child brings a whole new set of responsibilities.
Along with those responsibilities come added stressors you may not be equipped to cope with. Here are some of the major causes of stress and what you can do to relieve the pressure.
If every minute of your day is taken up with the care of your disabled child, it’s no wonder you’re stressed. There are resources available to you when you have a special needs child. In Dubai, the Sanjay Shah Autism Rocks Support Centre offers a host of support services for parents. In the U.K., the Council for Disabled Children website features a list of resources, guidance and toolkits to assist parents. Nearly every community has some type of assistance available to parents of special needs children.
Guilt is the Worst
A parent of a special-needs child runs the gamut of emotions, but guilt is most likely at the top of the list. Guilt over the fact that you have a child with special needs, guilt over not having time to spend with your partner, guilt over feelings of neglect towards your other children, guilt and worry about whether or not you’re doing everything you can for your special needs child—the list goes on.
The problem is that guilt is a destructive emotion and prevents you from moving forward. If you find yourself with overwhelming feelings of guilt, seek a professional’s help. You’ll be a stronger parent and better equipped to handle stressors when you put that unwarranted guilt to rest.
Worry About Your Partner and Other Children
Another source of stress when you have a special needs child is the worry about the effects on your partner and the other children in the household. You no longer have time to spend alone with your partner; the other children aren’t getting the nurturing they need. The family’s activities seem to revolve around your special needs child and no one else’s needs are being met. You used to have a life. Now you have a duty.
What You Can Do
A large part of the stress factor when you have a special needs child comes from feeling like you don’t have control anymore. But, you can regain control and make positive changes in your life and that of your family. Here’s how: