How are parents of special needs children affected by their child's disability?

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Answered by: Emily, An Expert in the Coping With Special Needs Category
The birth of a child forever changes and molds the future of that child's parents. Their lives, once focused on themselves in every aspect, are now shifted to focus on the new life they have brought into the world.

Every child is unique and special, requiring individualized and specific care; no two are alike and yet all are perfect in their own way. However, some children require even more attention than most. This extra attention may be due to hearing loss, vision loss, autism, down syndrome or many other kinds of disabilities that affect so many children. Some may say that these are challenges that are unable to be overcome, impossible to deal with or the worst news to hear. When many hear the phrases "special needs" or "disabled" they are struck with a sense of fear, with a feeling that these are children that are without hope. If they would only ask the parents of these disabled children they would see how blessed and beautiful the lives of the children and parents truly are.

Parents of special needs children are just like those of children without special needs, they need to love their children unconditionally and provide a support system in their child's life to allow them to flourish and become successful, healthy adults contributing to society. However, how parents of children with special needs provide this support is different.

Children with disabilities often require twice as much attention in the sense that they have much more care necessary to keep them healthy and functioning. There are more doctor visits, specialists, referrals, and insurance worries that come along with special needs children. Parents constantly need to be up to date with what kind of medical care their child is recieving, what options they have, and how it will all be paid for. The entire process takes a huge toll on the family both financially and emotionally. Financially, parents worry about what their insurance will cover, how expensive the co-pay will be, and how far away the doctor or specialist is. The emotional toll is far greater, however.

Every parent wants the best and easiest life for their child, coping with disabilities can be very difficult. All parents worry about the health and quality of life for their child, both physically and emotionally. No parent wants to see their child hurting or unhappy. It is not easy for a parent to know that their child's entire life will be more stressful and challenging than that of a child without any disabilities. Hope lies in the fact that love is life's greatest motivator. With dedication and perseverance, parents can provide a happy and beautiful life for their disabled child.

I speak from experience. At nine months old I learned that my son had eighty percent hearing loss in both of his ears making his almost completely deaf. Of course the news was heartbreaking at first, I wanted him to grow up just like any other child. Then I realized that I loved him just the same and that was all that mattered. Thanks to an amazing team of specialists and the technology we have today I know that there is hope for him. The extra care he requires is worth seeing him happy and thriving just like any little boy. His disability made me realize how thankful I am for my own ability to hear and has given me a new love for life.

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