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Face up to the challenge of parenting differently-abled kids with confidence!

Kids are an absolute blessing and a joy. In many ways, as parents, they complete us and give us a sense of purpose. Incidentally, while kids who were differently abled were looked upon as something unfortunate by previous generations, the current generation thankfully has had a kinder and understanding view of them. This change is indeed a considerable boon and has ensured that kids of differing abilities enjoy a good quality of life and a life that comes full circle.

As with all parenting roles, looking after differently-abled kids does present some unique challenges. However, with some help and understanding, you can largely overcome these challenges and ensure that you and your little one have a great time. Here are some thoughts on the subject:

Chin up: As a parent, don’t allow yourself or your family to be overly downcast and negative about this. Importantly, stay away from expressions of sympathy and pity – this is a slippery slope and must be avoided at all costs. Instead, take this challenge head-on, welcome it, and know that you can definitely deal with it, all for the sake of your little one. Be positive. Stay positive.

Hunter-gatherer: Nope, this isn’t some reference to some possible prehistoric gender role. Instead, an apt description of what you should turn into – a hunter-gatherer of information on your child’s condition. There’s plenty of information online, besides the books and the experts you can reach out to. So, find out how you can make your child’s life as complete and comfortable as possible. Keep an open mind too. There are always plenty of developments in these fields that could make a huge difference!

Hands and hearts: While many hands make light work, so does many hearts! With this in mind, do consider befriending parents who have differently abled kids. The kids can get together for a playdate, while parents trade notes, funny stories as well as encouragement and empathy. Exchanging your experience with other parents is especially important because no one truly ‘understands’ your life as they do. Also, by connecting with other parents, you get to explore the possible opportunities for your kids.  Sarah Milko, the executive director of AutismUp , a Webster-based community organization, says, “We realized that, as a group of moms, we could not just get together and support each other, but that we really had the power to develop programs that didn’t exist in the community.” Today the organization offers specialized facilities and programs for individuals with autism and their families.

Borrowed parents: When your kids head out to their play home or school, keep a close tab on their activities. To this end, have regularly scheduled meetings with their teachers to discuss their progress, behavior, and learning trajectory. All of this in practice will ensure that all the caregivers are singing from the same hymn sheet, crafting a world that homogenous and harmonious for your little angel!

Parent therapy: Despite the many joys, recognizing and acknowledging that parenting a differently abled child is quite a tough thing is an important step. Therefore, welcome all the help you can get from friends and family. Parenting of this kind calls for patience and empathy in heaps, so ensure you take breaks and seek professional help if need be – this will help you feel less frustrated, edgy or irritated.

World is full of possibilities and living inspirations. One such example is Jose Canoy, who has autism.  He built The Puzzle Café with the help of his family. The cafe employs people with autism. “We’re out here to show people that being different is not bad,” says Jose. “You can live it.”

Give your kid a change to spread his/ her wings! 🙂

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