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How To Care For A Child With A Disability Or Illness




Boy placing hands on a red paper heart

You’re likely going to have a lot of questions when caring for a child with a disability or illness. The upside is that it is a manageable situation if you have the right tools and mindset in place. Remember that you’re not alone or the only parent or loved one ever to have to deal with caring for a child who needs extra attention.

You love your child and want what’s best for them, so it’s important to learn what you can do today to help give your child a better tomorrow. Never stop trying and avoid giving up hope that you both can get to a better place and understand one another on a deeper level as time goes on. 

Educate Yourself on Their Diagnosis

When caring for a child with a disability or illness, it’s likely that you’re going to feel a bit confused about the matter initially. It may be completely unfamiliar to you, and you might feel scared or anxious about the circumstances at first. What will help ease your concerns is if you take the time to educate yourself and learn more about the diagnosis. For example, refer to the autism services site to help you better navigate autism and what your options are for getting the answers you need if this is your situation. 

Equip yourself with knowledge, so you feel more in control and less worried about what your child is living with. There are plenty of online resources, books and support groups you can join so you can feel comforted and at ease about what you’re both going through. Instead of sitting around worried and feeling helpless, empower yourself with information and learn better ways to cope with and manage the disability or illness.

Spend Quality Time Together 

It’s important that you try to create some normalcy in your child’s life when they have a disability or illness. Make it a point to spend quality time together and have a little fun once in a while. Find activities you both enjoy doing together and that helps to ease both of your stress levels. Create a list of hobbies you can take part in during your free time so you’re always prepared to engage with your child when the opportunity presents itself. This is a great way to take a break away from each of your responsibilities and simply enjoy your time with one another. 

Have Patience with Your Child

When your child has a disability or illness, they may act in a particular way or need special attention and care at times. It’s important that as the caretaker, you remain patient with the child and don’t make the situation worse by trying to decide what’s best for them. Listen to what they’re telling you and how they’re feeling so you can offer up the best advice and solutions for them. Keep in mind that some days are going to be more challenging than others, but that it’s important for you to remain calm and focus on what you can do to help. Instead of reiterating what’s not fair about the situation, concentrate on what you can be doing at the moment to make their life easier. 

Create an Inviting & Safe Home Environment 

It’s possible this child is going to depend on you a lot when they have a disability or illness, depending on the severity of it. One way to make the situation better is to create an inviting and safe home environment for this person to live based on their diagnosis. Make it a place where they can feel comforted and at ease without experiencing any frustrating distractions. Going to school or being out and about in the real world may be challenging for them, so they might look forward to having a home life that’s less chaotic and more predictable. Come up with routines and schedules you all can follow, so you both know what to expect each day.

Pick Your Battles

Being the caretaker of a child who has a disability or illness can cause extra stress and strain on you. It’s in your best interest to pick your battles wisely and not blow every small event that occurs out of proportion. Take a few minutes to cool off should you get heated or feel any negative emotions arising before you act or say words you might later regret. Be able to decipher if what the child is doing is actually harmful or simply irritating and then take the proper action depending on what you conclude.

Learn to Empower Them

What may be most helpful to the child who has a disability or illness is for you to empower them to become as independent as possible. It may be tempting to want to do it all for them in the beginning because you think you’re trying to help. However, it’s probably in the child’s best interest for you to take a step back and instead help them help themselves. Be available to guide and advise them, but stay away from always completing tasks for them. Praise them when they do a good job and use any mistakes that are made as a learning opportunity for the both of you.

Be Attentive & Listen to Their Needs

You can also care for a child who has a disability or illness by being attentive and a good listener. Ask them what they need from you and then be available to deliver upon their requests. Pay attention to how they function, be involved in their schedule and do what you can to help them along the way. They will likely be leaning on you a lot and will need your support as they try to manage their daily life and activities.

With a little knowledge, you can better care for a child who has disability or illness. There are ways to help you cope with the situation so you both can live a happy and productive life. Take advantage of this advice to help you navigate these unknown waters and stay afloat even through the most difficult of times.

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