The rate at which special needs cases are being detected lately in India is alarming. It’s not that the rate of occurrence is the only thing that’s rising, but awareness of developmental disorders is also raising and more and more kids are getting benefited out of early detection & intervention, whether it be Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Speech Delay or any other form of neurological or mental development disorder. It’s good to see parents going out of their way to make sure that their special needs kids are not missing out on anything and get equal exposure as compared to any typical kid. But then what about the parents? Has anyone ever thought about them & their needs too?
Who doesn’t remember the recent case of a mother throwing her 7-year-old special need daughter from 4th floor resulting in death of the child! It was sad, outrageous and act of inhumanity. This act can in no ways be justified, no matter how difficult the life of the mother must be raising a special need child. But can we for one moment acknowledge the fact that YES, Life is difficult for special needs parents! Like, REALLY difficult. Being in a situation where she was can easily lead a person to experience clinical depression and depression can make you do inhuman things, things you could never imagine you would do otherwise, things beyond your own control!
They need support, compassion, courage & above all they too need counselling. But most of them are shamed & isolated. So here, today, I want to help you all who want to be there for them but don’t know how – these few points might help you to help & connect with them better. Let me begin with how you can support Autism Parents.
- Ask them what you want to know. If you are avoiding talking to an Autism parent just because you do not know enough about the condition, ask them. No special need parent will take offense unless you say something offensive to them. Learn about what to say or not say to the kid to make sure the parents & the kid is comfortable.
- It’s OK to be quiet – A lot of times we don’t know what to say in situations like when a kid has a meltdown or a tantrum episode. It’s better to just be there for them and be quiet in case you don’t know what do say or do.
- Be Empathetic – Sometimes all a special need parents need is someone to listen & offer them a HUGE cup of coffee.
- Have Patience – It is difficult for even parents to figure out ways of communicating with a special needs child in a way that it reaches them. If you feel you aren’t able to connect with the child, be patient & keep trying.
- Don’t ask personal questions – Knowing about someone’s condition is absolutely essential, but getting into personal space is not cool. Questions like “How are you managing the finances?” “Would you ever plan for another child?” “Did you vaccinate your child?” etc are not at all needed unless you are that close to the parent that they wont mind you asking.
- Offer to help – We all get overwhelmed at times, and with special needs kids, their therapies & interventions, it might be exhausting for the parent. Offer to help in whatever way you can. If it’s not possible to help with the child, offer to help with other errands & odd jobs that might give a little breather to the parents.
- Be kind & Be there – Just knowing that people are sending a Hello just because they care for you is sometimes more than enough
Let’s make special need parents feel not left out but included, loved & cared for. There’s nothing more they ask for anyways!
Suggested Reading about Autism & Development Delay
To know about Early Signs of Autism, click HERE (click for direct link)
Also read about other general Red Flags – Developmental Delay in Infants & Toddlers HERE (click for direct link)
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