Early Intervention and Support for Special Needs Children November 21 2011
When expecting a baby, every parent dreams of the perfect child who lives up to all their dreams. Sometimes, life gets in the way. Dealing with a child who has special needs can be draining, both emotionally and academically. For some parents the diagnosis is like a shot from afar, while others have seen it coming for a while. Regardless, it’s important for parents to get the support they need in order to help their child reach their full potential.
Most states have early intervention programs that offer all different forms of therapy for children who are delayed. The policies in different states will vary. For example, early intervention in New Jersey is a state sponsored program that works in tandem with private agencies. The earlier you catch the problem in a child with disabilities, the easier it is to bring the child up to par. If you suspect delays in your child, call your state’s early intervention program for an evaluation. They will come to your home, and if services are deemed necessary, therapists will visit the child’s natural environment. In the case of small children, this will be your home. Many states also offer financial aid based on household income.
It is vital to establish good communication between parents, teachers, and therapists. Depending on the child, they may need a multitude of helping hands, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and more. The only way the child will succeed is if parents, teachers, and therapists discuss the child’s setbacks and progress so they can focus on what needs to be corrected as a unified whole.
Therapy is not free babysitting. In order for a child to internalize and practice what is being taught, positive reinforcement is a must. Parents should be in touch with therapists and teachers to inquire about what is being taught, and work to reinforce the skill at home, making it second nature for the child. In the case of early intervention programs, the parent should try to be present during the session so as to learn how the therapist works with the child, and emulate the methods of teaching.
Choosing the Right School
The school your child attends and the resources they offer can greatly affect your child’s learning experience, and the rate at which they develop. Some parents insist on keeping their child streamlined in a regular school, so that in their minds their child is classified as normal. Sometimes this works, but many children in this situation fall behind, because they can’t keep up, and they aren’t being given the resources necessary to help them grow. Although it may be painful, you have to do what’s best for your child. Discuss schooling with your child’s therapists and other mothers in the situation. Then, take a step back and try to do what is best for your child.
Aside for just the children, parents may also need support as they work to raise children with special needs. There are thousands of support groups catering to specific disabilities and situations. It is important to network and be in touch with other parents who are going through the same thing as you. They will help with referrals and tips, as well as emotional support when things get rough.
Although at first it’s hard to digest, with the right help and support, you and your child can successfully overcome the hurdles and grow through your challenges.
About the Author: Cassie Rimes is a mother of a special needs child who works with therapists and teachers to help her child reach his full potential. She is involved in numerous NJ early intervention programs, and tries to help other parents in similar situations. She has had good experiences with Classic Rehab, as well as other state sponsored and private agencies. She is a big believer in speaking with other parents, and allowing them to help you in your personal struggles.