Parenting and Living with a Special Needs Child: The Unimagined Life
Dallas Family Attorneys want you to meet Isaac Lufkin. As a freshman place kicker for his Rhode Island football team the “Classics,” he helped the team to an undefeated season and freshman football state title. Like many football players his age, Isaac dreams of playing in the National Football League (NFL). Unlike many football players his age, Isaac was born without arms.
When the NFL heard about Isaac’s inspiring story, they invited him and his mother to the Super Bowl as VIP guests. Isaac says that the next time he goes to the Super Bowl, he wants to be on the field — playing. Isaac could be fitted with prosthetic limbs, but that could throw off his balance when kicking. Besides, Isaac functions independently by using his feet, chin and shoulders.
Getting to this point was not an easy road for Isaac and his parents. Living with a child with special needs can have profound effects on the entire family. Parenting a child with special needs can be the hardest thing people ever do; they follow a path involving difficult choices, unknown outcomes, interactions with many specialists and professionals, an ongoing need for information, and constant worry about medical services. Dallas Family Attorneys offer some insights below into common issues experienced by parents and families of children with special needs.
Initially, many parents and family members may be in denial about the diagnosis of their child or sibling. Denial morphs into fear, which morphs into anger, which morphs into paralysis. That is why it is important to stay in touch with reality; stay in the here and now, and in the moment. Take one day at a time.
Avoid pity and self-pity. These are not helpful emotions for you, your child or sibling. Isaac Lufkin’s mantra is “I don’t want pity.” Pity is disabling in itself. Instead, empathy–the ability to feel what another is experiencing–is the emotion that helps to heal the disappointments, heartaches, and give hope for the future. Parents need to recognize that they are not alone, despite common feelings of isolation. Support groups, church groups, and local chapters of the particular disorder’s association can all be good resources.
Perhaps the most daunting challenge associated with being a parent of a special needs child is accessing the necessary medical care and services–and then paying for it all. Many children with complicated cases require a team of specialists who work with each other and with ancillary services such as physical and occupational therapy. For children with rare special needs, multifaceted specialized care may not even be available nearby, making travel a necessary part of the treatment process. All of this is expensive and requires a health care plan that covers hospitalizations, prescription drugs, many in-patient and outpatient treatments, tests, and procedures. Such a plan, at least one that is affordable, is hard to find. For children with special needs, it really does take a village–with a bank.
Although raising a child with special needs is not a life most parents expect, it is the journey they find themselves on nonetheless. Through it all, they must not forget that this is their child, their family, their life. If you have more questions concerning support groups or ways in which a Dallas family attorney can offer help, contact the offices of Goransan Bain, PLLC.
This post was written by Goranson Bain.