Having a child with disabilities can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding journeys of your life. If your child has recently become disabled or just just been diagnosed then it is important to understand how this Disability will impact your life and some tips for making your life easier.
The Different Types of Disabilities
There are many different disabilities out there that a child can suffer from. It could be a physical handicap, such as with cerebral palsy, an emotional disability or even an intellectual disability. There is no one disability that is worse than the other. Each are devastating in their own way. There are different challenges these parents and children will go through that can be just as challenging as someone with another disability.
A Few Things to Remember
No matter what the disability is, there are a few things parents of people with disabilities should know:
- You are not alone
- This does not have to define your child
Just because your child has a certain disorder does not mean they cannot go on to live a fulfilling life. Will there be extra hurdles they will have to overcome in life? Of course, but this is part of the journey and it makes success even sweeter.
One example of this perseverance was with a girl who was born with cerebral palsy. No one expected her to ever have a successful life. Being a person with a stubborn personality she fought harder than anyone expected. While she never walked perfectly, she did walk again. She went to college and lived on her own. She got a degree as a law librarian. She even got married and has a family today. Do not discount what your child can be just because of a diagnosis.
Know What You are Dealing With
The moment you find out your child has a disability, you should start to research this condition. Take the time to really understand it so you can know what to expect, what to look for and what can be done. You may also find it helpful to set a Google alert for the condition. This can help you to stay on top of breaking news with this disability, such as new treatments that have been discovered.
A great example that has been in the news significantly over the last couple years is a treatment for seizures. Studies have shown that medicinal marijuana can help curb seizures. A Denver dispensary created a strain of marijuana that had virtually no THC (the compound that gets you high) but was high in CBD (the compound that has medicinal benefits) in it for a 5 year old girl named Charlotte. Sure enough her seizures have almost completely gone away. This was remarkable enough that states that do not even allow medicinal marijuana have passed this specific strain as legal, such as in Florida.
This is just one example. By doing your research you will find many different things that you didn’t know about the condition. Being fully informed and staying on top of news with the disability can be a way to have some peace of mind.
The Impact of Disabilities on the Family
Even though you only have one child with disabilities does not mean that only one person in the house is affected. Rather everyone in the home is affected by the disability. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a great way to teach siblings about responsibility and the importance of helping others.
It is important to note that studies have shown that families with a disabled child tend to have higher levels of stress for everyone in the household. This is why it is important to find ways to help everyone de-stress. Whether you do something extravagant such as looking for great deals on a vacation the whole family would enjoy or just starting a family game night, the benefits will be far reaching.
Make Life Easier for Yourself
Another helpful thing to consider is finding ways to make life easier for yourself when you have a child with disabilities. For instance, if your child needs therapy, see if you can get the therapist to come to your home for therapy to save time and hassle of leaving the home. When they are old enough to go to school you may want to put them into a school devoted to children with special needs or even one that has a program so they can get therapy while at school.
You can also utilize the many apps out there for children with disabilities. For instance, there are many different apps for children with autism that cover almost the entire spectrum. You can find games that will help them with language, function skills, behavior intervention and so much more. The best part is that your child can learn without ever realizing they are being taught. While you may not want your child to engage in games all the time, it can be a great way to give them stimulation in a beneficial way.
How to Deal with Rough Days
Rough days are a part of every parent’s life. However, when you have a child with disabilities, these can be more frequent or can feel more difficult to manage. There are a few ways you can handle these days constructively.
Focus on the Positive
There are going to be days with your child where you feel like everything is an uphill battle that you are losing. On these days, it is important to think about the potential your child has. Focus on how far your child has come. Maybe they are only muttering sounds and you don’t know how to help but six months ago they were non verbal. Try focusing on the positives like these when it gets hard.
Reach Out to Your Support Team
This is why it is important to have a support team behind you. For many families, this comes back to the extended family, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and close friends. Having someone to talk to when the day is hard or you are just so frustrated you want to break down can make all the difference in the world.
Make Time for Yourself
As a parent you naturally want to give your child all the attention in the world. You want to be there for them and help them in every way imaginable. In the end though, if you are not making time for yourself, then you can be heading towards a meltdown. Taking time to do something for yourself and having some adult time can make all the difference in the quality time you spend with your child. Whether this is a day where you get your hair and nails done or simply have a date night with your significant other, it is important to be able to have some time that is just for you.
Seek Out Support
Another really great choice that can help when your child has a learning disability or really any type of disability is to find a support group. For some parents this is easy. If your child goes to a school with other children who have disabilities, then the parents can get together to support each other more. However, if your child does not go to one of these schools, then you should look for a support group outside of this.
There are groups that you can find online as well as ones that meet physically. While the idea of just going online is good, you want to get a real sense of support which is where a physical meeting can help. Your child can interact with other people going through the same thing. For example if your child has a freedom disability, then it may be helpful to be around other children with similar disabilities and even disabled veterans.
Handling Public Situations
One aspect that many parents do not consider until they have a child with disabilities is dealing with situations that arise when you are in public. There are many ways that this can play out, though it breaks down into two categories. One, your child has a some sort of crisis due to their disability or someone stares or makes comments about your child because of their disability. Neither of these situations are pleasant, but they are something that will be a part of your life. The good news is that there are a few ways that you can handle these situations.
When your child is having an issue, do your best to control the situation but try to remain calm. The more stressed you get, the harder it will be for your child. It is natural to feel embarrassed, especially if your child is having a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store, but they will sense your energy and it will make the situation worse. Try calming them down enough to take them to the bathroom and handle the situation in private.
As far as people staring at your child or making comments go, it can be difficult to fight the urge to lash out at these people. It is important that you handle these situations with the poise and dignity you and your child deserve. First, think about the reason for what is happening. In many cases, it may be curiosity, especially for children. They may have never seen a child is a wheelchair before and do not know how to respond. Take the time to politely educate someone when this happens.
Keep in mind that you do not have to tolerate someone being rude or bullying your child for their disability. Get your child out of the situation rather than trying to confront someone in front of your child. While you may feel like you are defending the honor of your child, it can be more damaging to a child to see their parent confronting someone, especially if things start to escalate.
Get the Help You Deserve
The financial impact of having a child with disabilities can be overwhelming. There are many immediate and long term costs that can be hard to fit into a budget for the family. This includes aspects such as equipment, therapies and doctors visits, medications and so much more. This is why so many families rely on social security benefits for their child.
Laws such has the Americans with Disabilities Act has made it easier to get financial help when you or your child has a disabling condition that drastically impacts their ability to live a normal life. As soon as you know that your child has a condition that will impact their lives severely for an extended period of time, it is best to start the application for social security benefits. Getting the ball rolling on the application process is the hardest part and something many people put off for a long time because they are overwhelmed when looking at this.
What Qualifies as a Disability?
One of the first things many people wonder when they find out that their child has a condition is whether or not they qualify for social security disability benefits. There are a few qualifications that are taken into account when determining whether someone qualifies for disability:
- A child must not be working or earning more than a certain dollar amount per month. The dollar amount
- The child must have a condition that causes them to have severe and noticeable limitations. This can be either physical, emotional or mental.
- The child must be expected to remain disabled for at least 12 months or have the expectation of death due to the disability.
Now these are very vague guidelines that can make it difficult for people when applying for disability. There is no social security disability list of impairments that is official. This is because it is based on a case by case basis based on the need of the individual and the extent of the child’s disability.
Filing for disability is a difficult process that can take a very long time. Many parents decide not to do this, especially at first, because it seems like more hassle than it is worth. However, the additional funds can do a lot to help cover the cost of things your child will need throughout their life.
You will have to get all the documentation for your child’s disability whether you are applying for long term disability or even if you want to use your own short term disability insurance. This includes doctor’s notes and conclusive tests that show the extent of the developmental disabilities or other disability your child may experience.
Tips When You Apply for Social Security Disability
One of the best things you can do is to consider using disability lawyers to help you with the case. For one, they will be able to tell you whether you should apply for disability or whether you are wasting your time. They understand all the relevant laws, including the American with Disabilities Act so they can give you the best advice.
There are many people who do not use them until there is an issue with the application or need to contest the findings. Then not only do they wish they had hired one in the beginning, but must now look for one to help them with their state disability claim and disability forms that need to handled.
Make sure you know how to apply for social security disability before you start. You may want to look through the entire social security disability application before you start. Make sure you know what all is on there so you can make sure to have all the information you need before you start to fill it out. It can also be helpful to read over pertinent laws, such as the American Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
If you have any questions while you are filling out the application, you can call the social security disability phone number at 1-800-772-1213. This is the number you would call with any questions or if you do not want to start your application this way. You can also call this number to find out your social security disability status and see how the application process is going. Keep in mind though that this can be a very long process so do not expect overnight results.
Another thing to consider is looking at your long term disability insurance to find out if you qualify for benefits. Some policies grant this to parents who take care of children with long term disabilities because the expenses such as care, can add up quickly.
Having a child with disabilities may be difficult almost every day for every member of your family. However, at the end of the day, it can broaden your horizons, teach you things you never knew were possible and strengthen your family. There are going to be times when it seems like you simply are not making progress, but these are the times when you don’t want to give up. Be there for your child and enjoy this experience because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity!