According to the NYC Department of Education, 20% of school-aged children have disabilities. If your family includes a child with special needs, you’re a champion for someone you love. Staying strong for that person also means taking care of yourself and reaching out for support. We’d like to offer some tips and tools that you may find helpful.
1 Get Support
Feeling overwhelmed at times is natural, and sometimes the best support comes from those who know exactly what you are experiencing. A support group can lessen feelings of isolation and fear. Family members also want to provide support but may not always know exactly how. To help them, make a list of tasks that you need their assistance with. In time, you’ll have a support system to help you be the best possible caretaker for your child.
2 Self-Care Is Important
Sometimes, we forget to care for ourselves when caring for others. With a child or loved one with special needs, you may feel time for self-care is out of the question. Even 10 minutes a day to decompress and center yourself can re-energize you to tackle your day. If you have support from family members on the weekend, try an at-home spa day. A bubble bath and candles may be all you need to feel rejuvenated. If you’re managing medical conditions, it’s especially important that you keep up with medications or other needed care. Staying healthy is the most important aspect of being able to care for someone else. Eat healthy, keep your stress levels low, and maintain a good support system.
3 You May Be Eligible for Assistance
Regardless of your income, if you have a loved one with special needs, you may be eligible for assistance that may help with medical expenses, housing, and food. For information about types of assistance you may be eligible for, call 311
4 Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Getting the best care or treatment for your loved one may sometimes require you to be vocal in a medical setting. Keep a list of your loved one’s allergies and the medications they take. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! Health care providers want you and your loved one to receive the best care and are willing to explain something if asked. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides a standard of care that your loved one should receive, which includes
5 Celebrate Your Victories
Going through the motions day after day can lead to feelings of despair. Take time to reflect on where you and your loved one were a year ago. You might be surprised how much growth has occurred and how much your family has overcome! Set small goals for your family and work towards them. Celebrate the victories achieved alongside your family and friends, no matter how small! Every day is an opportunity for a new accomplishment.
6 You Are Not Alone
We know that life can be overwhelming and sometimes you may feel alone. If you need to talk with someone, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or healthcare provider and set up an appointment. They can recommend resources and types of ongoing support.