Many people typically think of children with special needs as those with more challenges than other children.
Many different aspects of a child’s life can be considered special needs. Some common examples include disabilities such as autism, intellectual disabilities, ADHD, Down syndrome, and blindness; medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes; and physical challenges such as dwarfism or size differences.
Although each child has unique challenges, all children deserve the same opportunity to thrive in life. This includes kids who have special needs.
By understanding what qualifies as a “special need” and why it is vital for all children to thrive, we can help them reach their full potential.
As a parent, you want to do everything you can to ensure your kids are happy and healthy.
But what if one of your kids has special needs? Knowing how to help them thrive can be challenging, but with some research, you can devise a plan to help them reach their full potential.
This article provides 18 tips on how to help kids with special needs thrive. From developing an effective communication plan to providing your child with tailored education, these tips will help you support them and make life easier for all of you.
What is the Meaning of Special Needs Child?
When you see the words “special needs,” what do you think of? Do you think of a child in a wheelchair? Do you think of a child with Down syndrome? The reality is that there is no one definition of a special needs child.
A special needs child is simply a child who has a disability that requires special education and related services. This can include physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities. Special needs children may also have chronic health conditions.
According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, approximately 1 in 6 children in the United States has a disability. That means that there is likely at least one child with a disability in every classroom.
While “special needs” is often used to describe a child with a disability, it is essential to remember that every child is unique. Just because a child has a disability does not mean they are not also intelligent, talented, and capable.
If you know a special needs child, take the time to get to know them. They may surprise you with how much they have to offer.
How Do You Identify a Child Has Special Needs?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, some common signs may suggest your child has special needs. These can include:
• Not reaching key milestones, such as sitting up, crawling, or walking, at the same time as other children their age
• Having difficulty communicating or understanding what others are saying
• Struggling with learning, behavior, or socializing
• Displaying unusually high or low energy levels
• Showing signs of sensory processing difficulties, such as a dislike of certain textures or loud noises
If you’re concerned that your child may have special needs, you must speak to your GP or health visitor. They will be able to refer you to the relevant services and support.
While having a child with special needs can be challenging, it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience. Seeing your child overcome difficulties and achieve things you never thought possible is a feeling.
And with the proper support in place, your child can lead a happy and fulfilling life. So if you think your child may have special needs, don’t hesitate to contact your GP or health visitor. They can help you get the support you and your family need.
Types of Special Needs
There are many different types of special needs that children may have. Some common types of special needs include:
– Developmental delays
– Physical disabilities
– Intellectual disabilities
– Autism spectrum disorder
– Sensory processing disorder
Each child is unique and will have different needs. It is essential to work with your child’s healthcare team to determine what type of special needs your child has and the best care plan.
Some children with special needs will require more support than others. Some may need specialized therapies and medications. Others may be able to attend a regular school with the help of an individualized education program (IEP).
No matter your child’s special needs, know that you are not alone. Many resources and support groups are available to help you and your family.
Get to Know Your Child’s Individual Needs and How to Support Them Best
To help children with special needs thrive, getting to know their individual needs is essential. Creating a support system of family, friends, and professionals familiar with special needs can be helpful.
Patience and understanding are essential, especially when dealing with repeated meltdowns or setbacks. By being proactive and understanding the child’s specific needs, parents can help them reach their full potential.
Encourage Independence and Self-Esteem
It is essential for all children to feel confident and independent. However, this can be especially difficult for kids who have special needs.
To encourage self-esteem in these kids, praising them for their accomplishments is important, even if they don’t meet the “normal” standards. We can help kids with special needs thrive by encouraging independence and self-esteem.
This doesn’t just mean giving them more opportunities to experience regular tasks and activities but also ensuring access to necessary resources and assistance.
By allowing kids to be self-sufficient, they become less reliant on others. They can also help build their self-confidence and boost their overall sense of well-being.
Ultimately, this will help them overcome challenges and reach their full potential.
Adjust Your Parenting Style to Match Your Child’s Unique Needs
When parents have children with special needs, many adjustments must be made to properly care for and support the child.
One of the first things parents must do is adjust their parenting style to match their child’s unique needs.
Different children respond better to different types of parenting, so parents need to find out what works best for their children.
Create a Positive Environment Where Your Child Feels Accepted and Supported
Creating a positive environment for your child with special needs is essential to their success. Here are some tips to help you create an environment that leads to thriving:
1. Be accepting of your child and their differences. Don’t try to change or make them fit into the traditional society expects of them. This can lead to frustration and feelings of rejection from you and your child.
Just be there for them, understanding that they will always be different than everyone else.
2. Encourage social interaction and interaction with others who share similar interests as your child. This can help build confidence and self-esteem in your child and provide opportunities for socialization that may not otherwise be available.
It’s important to remember that children with special needs often have unique talents too! Let them show off those skills in a positive way!
3. Provide plenty of opportunities for physical activity and playtime, even if this means adapting activities slightly to be safe and fun for your child. Movement is critical for children’s development, both physically and mentally/psychologically.
Spending time outside playing games or doing active tasks together is an excellent way to encourage socialization and help your child learn new skills that will help them succeed in life.
4. Don’t forget school activities! Children with special needs often face challenges at school, particularly in the classroom.
Advocate for Your Child in School and Other Settings
A school is where children with special needs should thrive, but often they do not.
Many schools have policies and procedures that can inadvertently limit a child’s opportunities.
It is essential to advocate for your child and ensure they are given the same opportunities as their peers. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
1. Find out what policies and procedures your child should follow and ensure they are followed. This can be done by talking to the teacher or administrator who knows your child best or looking at the school’s policy online.
2. Ensure you know your child’s accommodations and ask for them if necessary. Accommodations can include modifications to the curriculum, modifications to seating, or auxiliary aids and services such as assistive listening devices or captioning services.
3. Be persistent when getting accommodations made for your child. Often schools are willing to make small changes to accommodate a student but will not make more extensive changes unless there is a written request from the parents.
Keep copies of all accommodations-related correspondence so you have proof if needed.
Teach Your Child Self-advocacy Skills
Parents can do so many things to help their children with special needs thrive and feel supported. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:
1. Make sure your child knows their rights. They need to know what they can and cannot do and what services are available. Teach your child to access these resources and advocate for themselves when necessary.
2. Encourage your child to be active and involved in their community. This will provide them with social interactions, opportunities for learning new things, and a sense of accomplishment. Help your child find groups or activities that match their interests and abilities so they feel comfortable participating in life beyond the home setting.
Connect With Other Parents of Children With Special Needs
One of the most important things families can do to help their children thrive on creating a supportive network of other parents facing the challenges of raising a child with special needs.
This can be accomplished by joining parent clubs or organizations focusing on support, attending meetups and networking events, and sharing your experiences and advice.
Another way to connect with other parents is through online forums, where you can share information, ask questions, and get advice from others who have experience dealing with similar issues.
Many online resources are available that provide tips on how to help your child with special needs thrive, including articles, videos, and blogs.
The important thing is to find what works best for you and your family to create the most supportive environment possible for your child.
Build a Support Network
Strong support networks can comprise family, friends, professionals, and more. It is essential to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to share experiences with, and to provide emotional support when needed.
There are also many resources available that can help families build a support network. One example is the National Organization on Disability (NOD) website which offers a variety of information and resources related to special needs parenting.
Encourage Your Child’s Interests
Regarding kids with special needs, it is essential to encourage their interests. This can help them feel like they are not limited and allow them to explore their abilities independently. Some things you can do to encourage your child’s interests include:
1. Encourage them to try new things, even if they are afraid or don’t enjoy it. If they are too afraid or don’t seem interested in something, sometimes it is helpful to have an adult helper with them so that they know that there is someone who cares about them and believes in them.
2. Find out what your child enjoys and support those interests.
For example, if your child loves playing the violin but doesn’t want to take piano classes because he feels embarrassed, find a music teacher who will work with him on the violin instead of piano classes. This way, he will still get the opportunity to learn how to play the violin and also be able to express his interest in music.
3. Provide opportunities for your child to participate in activities that interest them.
For example, if your child loves animals, offer opportunities for them to participate in pet adoption events or zoo trips. This way, your child can learn more about different animals and have fun simultaneously.
4. Ensure that your child has enough time for rest. Taking breaks throughout the day will help them focus and be more productive when trying to learn something new.
Provide A Balanced Diet with Optimal Nourishment And Enough Rest
A balanced diet is key to ensuring that kids with special needs thrive. A balanced diet includes all the essential nutrients and proteins for optimal health. It should also include enough carbohydrates, fats, and water to give the body energy.
It is essential to give kids with special needs enough rest. This will help them restore their energy and increase their focus.
In addition, getting adequate sleep helps prevent mood swings and teaches kids how to manage stress effectively.
Accommodations and Modifications
Offering accommodations and modifications to the regular school day can help your child feel comfortable and successful. Accommodations may include modifying the schedule, providing support materials, or hiring an aide.
Modifications could include adjusting class sizes, providing accommodations for special needs, or altering homework assignments. It is essential to work with your child’s school to devise a customized routine that will meet their specific needs.
Help Your Kids With Adaptive Devices
Adaptive devices can make a big difference in the lives of children with special needs. Communication boards and devices that help with daily tasks can make a huge difference in their ability to live independently and participate fully in society.
Many adaptive devices are available, so finding the right one for your child is essential. Some standard adaptive devices include communication boards, assistive listening devices, and travel aids. Choosing a suitable device for your child’s specific needs is essential.
Each device has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. It is essential to consider what will best suit your child’s needs.
For example, a communication board may be best if your child has difficulty speaking or using written language.
Assistive listening devices can be helpful if your child has difficulty hearing or staying focused during conversations.
Travel aids can help children with special needs when they are away from home for extended periods.
It is essential to consult with a qualified professional when purchasing an adaptive device for your child. They will be able to provide you with the best options for your child’s specific needs.
Respect Their Privacy and Try Not to Force Them to Talk About Their Issues
When it comes to special needs kids, many parents want to do whatever they can to help them thrive.
However, there is a delicate balance: respecting their privacy while encouraging them to share their concerns and struggles.
Here are a few tips for navigating this delicate terrain:
First and foremost, it’s important not to force the issue. If your child is reluctant to share what’s happening, let them be. This doesn’t mean you should avoid asking probing questions, but try not to push too hard.
Another essential principle is respect for the individual with special needs. It can be tempting to insist that your child talks about their issues—especially if you feel like they haven’t been sharing enough already—but this can backfire.
In particular, forcing the issue may cause your child anxiety or frustration instead of relief or understanding.
Provide Them With as Many Opportunities as Possible to Express Themselves Creatively
When it comes to children with special needs, the key is to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to express themselves creatively.
This can be done by providing art supplies and encouraging them to create whatever they feel passionate about.
It can also be helpful to involve them in extracurricular activities, such as music or theater, that allow them to use their creativity and constructively communicate their feelings.
Show Them Love and Compassion Always
Most children with special needs require more love and compassion than most. This is especially true when the child is first diagnosed with a condition and can feel overwhelmed by all the changes that must be made.
Parents should always support their children, but it is also important to remember that special-needs children have unique strengths and abilities.
Instead of focusing on what the child cannot do, try to appreciate all they can do. Encourage them to express their feelings and be themselves no matter what others say or think about them. Let them know that you will always be there for them no matter what happens.
It can be hard to stay connected with your kids when you’re busy working or taking care of other responsibilities. That’s why ensuring you are always available to chat and support them is essential. Here are some tips for staying connected:
1. Set a schedule for phone calls or Skype chats so that you’re both on the same page. This way, you can converse rather than catch up on what’s happening.
2. Find ways to connect even when you’re not together. Send pictures and videos, write letters, or chat online using special tools like Dragon Dictate.
3. Make time each day to spend with your kids. This might mean walking, playing games together, or watching a movie.
Acknowledge and Celebrate Your Child’s Successes and Milestones
Special needs children face unique challenges that can make everyday tasks difficult.
However, acknowledging and celebrating your child’s successes and milestones can help them feel appreciated and motivated. Here are some tips to help you achieve this:
1. Let your child know that you’re noticing their progress. Acknowledge the small steps they take every day, no matter how small. This will encourage them to keep trying and show that you support their efforts.
2. Celebrate birthdays and other special occasions with your child, but also include a special mention of their special needs status or accomplishments. This will show them they’re not alone in their struggles, giving them a sense of pride in their accomplishments.
By following these tips, you can help your child thrive despite any extra challenges they may face!
Get Professional Help
When it comes to helping children with special needs thrive, it’s essential to get professional help. This can be through communicating with the schools, therapists, doctors, etc., to determine your child’s best plan.
There are many things to consider when trying to help a child with special needs, and figuring everything out alone can be daunting.
Getting professional help will allow you to focus on your child and determine what kind of support they need.
Special Needs Resource Websites
- Easter Seals
- Special Olympics
- United Cerebral Palsy
- The Arc
- Friendship Circle International
- Goodwill Industries International
- Parents Helping Parents
- Federation for Children with Special Needs
- Special Needs Alliance
- Family Voices
Over the years, we have heard many stories about special needs kids and their struggles. As guardians of these young souls, we must ensure they get the help they need and thrive.
With many resources available today – from counseling centers to autism groups – you won’t have much trouble finding support for your child’s unique situation.
We hope this article helped you learn more about how you can help your loved one live a flourishing life!
Thank you again for reading!
FAQs | Help Kids with Special Needs Thrive
What can I say instead of special needs?
A person with a disability or special needs can be described using a variety of phrases. Some words include special needs, disabled, differently-abled, and handicapped. No matter what term you use, it is essential to remember that each person is unique and deserves to be treated with respect.
What are the most common special needs?
There are several forms of special needs, but the most prevalent are autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. Each one needs a unique strategy for teaching and assistance.
Who are special needs students?
Special needs students have been identified as requiring more support to succeed. This may be related to a learning handicap, a physical disability, or an emotional/behavioral issue. Special needs children may require extra assistance in the classroom, curricular adjustments, or accommodations when taking examinations or completing tasks.
Is special needs a disability?
Individuals with special needs have distinct learning requirements or impairments that may or may not influence their ability to live freely. However, some individuals may consider any illness that necessitates additional assistance or accommodations a handicap.
Are special needs genetic?
It is dependent on the particular special requirements of the issue. Some unique needs might be attributed to genetic defects, but others can be attributed to environmental circumstances or trauma.
However, many exceptional needs result from a mix of genetic and environmental variables rather than a single cause.
Can special needs adults get married?
Adults with exceptional disabilities can marry. They are not prohibited by law from doing so. It is crucial to highlight. However, that marriage is a significant commitment, and it is not always simple for couples with special needs to make it work.
If you are considering marriage, discussing your intentions with your spouse and family is critical to ensure you are both prepared for the challenge.
- Special Needs Planning: Children with Special Needs
- Investopedia: What Is a Special Needs Child?
- Friendship Cirlce: 8 Important Tips For Working With A Special Needs Child
- Friendship Circle: 10 Special Needs Organizations You Should Know About
- Verywell Family: What Does “Special Needs” Mean?
- Connecticut Children’s: 18 Tips to Help Children With Special Needs Thrive While Learning at Home
- KidsHealth: Kids With Special Needs
- Lifehacks: 5 Tips on How to Help Kids with Special Needs Thrive
Editor’s Note: As a parent, it’s important to be aware of the disclaimer that comes with any parental tips you may read. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. What works for one family may not work for another. Also, remember that parenting is an ever-evolving process – what worked yesterday may not work today. So take everything you read with a grain of salt, and trust your own instincts as a parent.