How to Prepare for the Joys and Challenges of Raising a Child with Special Needs

How to Prepare for the Joys and Challenges of Raising a Child with Special Needs by Danny Knight

Preparing Your Home

One of the first things to do when you find out that you’re having a child with disabilities is to prepare your home to make it safe and accessible. If preparing for a physical disability, you’ll need to make some modifications, such as interior and exterior ramps, wider doorways, accessible cabinets, etc. If you have thick carpeting or rugs, consider replacing your floor with hardwoods to reduce the risk of falling and injury. It’s important to modify the bathroom so that your child can safely take baths and perform their daily hygiene routines. If you’re concerned about the costs of making such modifications, there are several grants available to help.

Common Insurance Questions

Health insurance is a common concern for parents when they find out their child will require additional needs. While providing top-quality care is a concern, access to resources will provide your child with a good quality of life. Children with special needs can qualify for disability benefits through Medicaid and Social Security, which can provide medical coverage, access to specialists, adaptive equipment, and therapy. If you will be utilizing your private insurance carrier, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with your insurance policy and to not be afraid to challenge your insurance provider on their decisions to provide coverage. Additionally, you can reduce out-of-pocket expenses by utilizing in-network providers and spending time researching medical professions on your insurance provider’s online databases.

 

Planning for Additional Expenses

 

Children with special needs will enrich your life in many ways, but it’s a reality that will also come with additional expenses. Depending on the disability, such expenses can vary. It’s important to plan for things like out-of-pocket care, qualified caregivers, special diets, or adaptive toys. Parents should take the time to financially plan for their special needs child the same way they would plan for college tuition and retirement. It’s beneficial to meet with a financial planner and an estate planning attorney to work jointly in formulating a plan to invest, grow assets, and potentially set up a special needs trust (supplemental needs trust) in order to protect assets from counting against your child in their governmental assistance determination.

 

Taking Care of Yourself

 

Caring for a child with disabilities is physically and emotionally challenging for the caregiver. You can provide your child with better care if you ensure that you are also well taken care of, and one way to do that is to surround yourself with support. You’re not alone in caring for your child. Aside from your family and friends, there are counselors, support groups, and community service organizations that can provide a helping hand. You should also take some time to nurture yourself by finding time to work out, take breaks, find hobbies, and occasionally do something you love that rejuvenates you.

 

If you’ve recently discovered that you’re having a child with special needs, know that parenting brings great joy and benefits, even when it’s difficult. If you do your research and prepare for adjustments, you’ll put yourself in a position to give your child everything they need. Remember to make any necessary preparations and modifications to your home, get ready for insurance questions and negotiations, plan for additional expenses, and take care of yourself. 

Where do addictions come from and how do they manifest?

What is it about addictions? Where do they come from and how to they manifest?

Many psychologists think that it all stems down to attachment and The Attachment Theory. This is somewhat true I believe. However, there must be some greater reason why people have unhealthy addictions. There are many types of addictions: sex, drugs, exercise, food, gambling, unhealthy relationships and the list goes on. What if addictions are the result of not being able to express how we feel? What if addictions are the result of not being able to express how we feel growing up as children?

To grow up in an era where emotions and feelings were never discussed were quite troublesome for me. As a young person I always wanted to discuss how I felt, what was going on in my head and/or what I was confused about in life in general. That platform was never open for me. It was always like ‘oh, Jessica wants to talk about her feelings…’ and I was ridiculed and made fun of.

I could remember sitting at the dinner table as a child trying to teach my family that ‘why do we have to sit down at the kitchen table if we aren’t going to talk about how we feel?’ My eldest brother would make fun of me and then everyone would laugh. I learned how to suppress my feelings and not ever talk about my needs or my feelings.

As a grown up this has somewhat disabled me. It has disabled me in a way where, now, when I want to tell someone how I feel it can make me nervous, uneasy and somewhat anxious; almost ashamed of me feeling the way that I do.

As a therapist and all through out my training I have learned how to help people with these same issues. However, what about me? How can I help someone if I can’t help myself first? This is a common thing that many psychology students will face when they are starting school and deciding to major in psychology.

Psychologists are not to go into the field of psychology to learn about themselves I have been told. And, being the literal person that I am have taken that on board as it is not a selfless way of supporting and/or helping others.

But, how can we/I find the balance? And, how does this relate to addictions and to unwanted habitual behavior … whatever it is?

What if the theory is this…. people who have difficulty with addictions in their life have never been taught to deal with their emotions properly. People with addictions have never been able to cope with their emotions and therefore use drugs, alcohol. sex, gambling to escape these difficult feelings that must be digested.

No one wants to feel sad or feel sad. Although it is enlightening to be the rabbit hole for a short while I am not sure anyone wants to get stuck in the rabbit hole. But, how can we get out? How can we stop self-sabotaging ourselves? When we feel great and feel confident and alive someone may say something that brings us right back down into that hole. How can we shield ourselves from this or is it the impossible?

What are you thoughts? Why do you think people have addictions? Why do people get stuck in certain ways that can be harmful to others and harmful to oneself?

After all, if we are not growing as individuals… what are we actually doing in life? We are not meant to meander… or are we? I am not happy meandering….

Moving to another country is an experience to enjoy the present.

Moving to another country: an experience to enjoy the present.
By Citlalli Degollado*.

The first time I moved to another country was 8 years ago, I was 22 years old with a lot of emotions and expectations for the new adventure. Everything was new for me, I was decided to say goodbye to all my life back home: security, family, friends, comfort zone, everything that I knew was gone, and it was just me, my baggage, my flight ticket and all my dreams to live in France. I was there for 10 months, and although I can say today that it was one of the most exciting experiences that I have ever had, the path I had to walk was not always that easy. At the beginning I felt scared and nervous, I didn’t speak French and it was the first time I lived far from my family. The months passed and little by little I learned to speak French, the culture and the way of life. I still missed my country and all my life there, but at the same time I was enjoying the scenery, the weather and why not? All the uncertainty, not knowing anything about what was going to happen. Now, 8 years later, I am 30 years old and I left my country for the second time, in another situation but with the same dreams. After new experiences, there is a moment when you understand that change is inevitable and sometimes necessary, when the fear moves you instead of blocking you, like a spring that pushes you up and helps you to continue.

So, what happens when somebody moves to another country? First, it is important to know that it is a change, and as every change we live, there are many emotions present in this process: fear, nervousness, uncertainty, euphoria, happiness and hope, among others. Psychologically, this change is like a grief, because we say goodbye to life as we know it and we go through different stages, such as excitement, sadness, fear, one emotion after the other. When we move to another country, at the beginning it is the honeymoon, in this moment everything is perfect, we are excited about the new life, what moves us is the novelty and the desire to discover. After some weeks, the cultural shock shows up, the new way of life is not exciting, we have to learn some new rules and habits, and things like the food, the language and the weather start to have some influence in our physical and emotional body. But life continues and we keep going, after some months, we start to adjust ourselves to this new life and that includes trying to insert ourselves to activities and to meet new people. Maybe they won’t be as special as our friends back home, or maybe they will, but they will definitely help us feel accompanied, with someone to share time, feelings, thoughts, and to learn from the other. Finally, we arrive to the last stage, the adaptation is done, when we understand that even if we are not at our place, our identity is still with us, we can learn and change some things but the essential stays, it is an integration between who we are and all the things that we have lived.

Although the adaptation process is something everyone will live, each person will experience it differently and according to their situation, context and emotional and personal resources. For example, it will not be the same for someone who moves away with her family because of a job opportunity, with certain economic security, than to someone who is fleeing her country due to a social conflict. In any case, it is important to have in mind that adapting to a new socio-cultural context implies walking through different moments that require emotional work. Understanding that it is a process, a path and not the destiny, helps to enjoy it more and take advantage of the moment.

“Since we just have the present, let’s live it as best as we can.”

*Citlalli Degollado is Gestalt Psychotherapist.
She works with adults and couples.
Currently she lives in Brighton, and she is giving psychotherapy to Spanish people.