When you get a new baby in your arms as a parent for the first time, there is so much to think about. I clearly remember all those thoughts and feelings with my first daughter. I didn’t even want the nurse to leave my husband and I after she buckled our baby into her carseat for the first time. I quickly learned step by step I could be someone's mother and to just try my best.
About six months later, my world shifted again. My daughter was not sitting up and rolling over like other children her age. She wasn’t able to put weight on her legs or hold her head up. She was missing those key developmental milestones. I remember crying for a week straight, and during that week driving by a school. I saw a child swinging on a swing and wondered if my child would ever be able to have that simple joyful experience.
We started to look for answers to how we could help her. It wasn’t easy, but in time my husband and I were able to navigate our way through understanding our daughter. Here are 5 special tips to parent a special needs child:
1. Gather your Home Team
One of the most important things is having a support system. Connect with family members that you know can support you, help you through different challenges that will come up, and share possible solutions. You can also reach out to other community or national organizations that might be familiar with your child’s special needs. Find those special people that can lift you and your family.
2. Develop your Team of Professionals
Just like gathering a family and community team, you have to get your professionals together. These might include physicians, therapists, and educators that are going to help you develop a game plan for your child. Start with your pediatrician and ask what step to take next. Make sure the team you bring together is the best for your child during this time.
3. Know What Resources are out there
Again, a great place to start is partnering with your child's pediatrician. There usually are early intervention organizations locally that could bring therapies into your home. Start looking at what your area and state has to offer. A great resource is Uplift Families. They have a website full of resources and articles at upliftfamilies.org. There are so many wonderful organizations in the State of Utah that provide opportunities to special needs children and their families.
4. Take Time to Care for Yourself
Being a parent to a child with special needs can cause quick and frequent burn-out. You have to make sure you are taking time to care for your health. When you feel good, you can help your child feel good. If you need a moment to regroup, ask someone on your home team to watch your child while you rest or go for a walk. Too often there can be a dazed, overwhelmed look on a parent’s face with a young special needs child. It can be difficult, but look for ways–even if it’s something simple that can refresh you. Both you and your child will benefit from your actions of self-care.
5. Connect with your Child
It is so important to take time to connect with your child. They need you, as well as time to just be a kid. Spend sweet one-on-one time with your child that isn’t running around to appointments. It could be simply taking the time to snuggle together while reading a book. In the next series we will deep dive into this more.
It wasn’t easy, but in time my husband and I were able to navigate our way through understanding our daughter.
Remember you have the incredible power of a parent's love for your child. Let love help you nurture your child and navigate parenting. These tips will support you and your little one on their journey. My daughter now knows how to swing on a swing all by herself. Just wait and see; you and your beautiful child will find joy on the swing of life.
Ardice K. Lorscheider was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University, where she graduated with degrees in Social Work and Family Science.
Ardice fell in love and married a sweet Utah boy. The Lorscheiders spent 20 years dealing with infertility to have their beautiful family. She is totally smitten by her three amazing girls. She has served as a youth president in her church and as a school parent organization president.
Ardice is a business partner with her husband and together they serve the oral health needs of northern Utah County. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Uplift Families. Her greatest service has been serving her eldest daughter who has special needs. Every day she is reminded of what matters most. Ardice is charmed by architecture, reading at the beach, and tea parties in the garden.