Working with children is one of the most special callings ever. Children are wonderful, full of light and love, and should be nurtured, protected, listened to, taught about the world, and most of all, loved! All children deserve equal and fair treatment, especially if they are children with special needs.
There is a range of methods that you can use to help children with special needs, such as going for cpi training and just adopting an overall approach of patience. We took the time to understand how to become a safe base for children with special needs and this is what we found. Remember to always consult with professionals such as a child therapist to assist you on this journey.
Learn to interact
This is a big part of promoting inclusivity so that the child or children understand their differences are what makes them special and not what makes them weird. Interact with your children as you would any child. Spend time with them during their playtime, read to them, and treat them as you usually would, of course within the bounds of their disability. If your child is not responding to your questions or shouts as a response, try to remain patient but do not dismiss them. You need to understand that, depending on their disability, your child may not be able to self-regulate so you need to consistently interact with them to foster some sense of normalcy.
Observe their habits
This is vital to not only understand your child but to also build a split foundation of trust. If your child feels that they are being understood and respected, chances are they will be more willing to trust you and feel safe. Look at how they interact with others, specifically their friends and family, and look at how they react to different situations. This way you can also build their lives so that they are constantly feeling comfortable. Remember, their disability is no one’s fault, least of all theirs so creating a safe space for them will build a wonderful relationship that can last throughout your lives.
Consistency is key
Like with most things in life, being consistent creates a safety net. This is highly important for children with special needs. They often feel anxious when things change, and of course, this will sometimes be out of your control, but if there is consistency at home this will help ease a lot of the anxiety your child might be experiencing. If your child knows you arrive home from work at 5 pm sharp and then you spend time together for a couple of hours, do this every day at the same time. However, when you are running late, also let your child know. This builds trust. The fact that you trust your child enough to deal with the information that you are going to be late, helps to keep that safe space in place.
While there is no way you could protect your child from every single situation out there, you can teach them about how things work, while also remaining positive. Living beings feed off energy, and while it is unnatural to be in a constant state of positivity, you can teach your child how the world works. You do this by showing them real-life scenarios with possible outcomes. You can take it a step further by explaining how handling a situation, however difficult it may be, in a more positive way will yield better results. This again helps with trust and safety. Your child will see that you care enough to share the truth with them, but that life isn’t always going to be easy and that you will be next to them every step of the way. Being realistic will also help you when your child is being discriminated against, like if they are rejected from activities or schools. Being open about these realities is a great way to build trust.
Plan A, B, and C
Plan for situations, especially ones that are out of your control. This also teaches your child that yes, life will have its obstacles but that being prepared with various plans does help you to get through situations. But not only that, it allows you some leeway when things don’t go as planned. Another point to remember is you need to focus on what each person CAN do to better a situation, instead of focusing on what they can’t do. You also need to understand that if you have other children, they might resent your special needs child, and this is where planning comes in. You know this might happen and to avoid major conflict, plan for these instances as far in advance as possible so that it is easier to deal with should the situation arise.