In the 1960’s when I was born, the situation for children with disabilities was very different. Parents didn’t always know how to deal with a child with a disability.
There was a stigma behind disability and rather than embrace the disability, those children were considered outcasts. Parents were embarrassed about their children and what other parents and society would think. Disability also didn’t come with an instruction leaflet, so parents found it hard to understand how to help their child.
Times have moved on and parents are now learning to embrace their children with a disability and what they bring to their lives. They see themselves as fortunate. Parents strive to lessen their child’s disorder and its impact, so that their child will go on to reach their emotional, physical and mental potential, alongside their other children.
Children that deal with a disability and who are encouraged to work and study alongside their peers in mainstream school, will be more fulfilled and should go on to lead more productive lives. There are statistics, which indicate that participation in every day activities with both disabled and non-disabled children help those children living with a disability become well-adjusted adults.
Learning to navigate mainstream school at an early age will also result in better integration as that child grows. Treating children normally as if they are not disabled, although addressing the disability where needed, helps them see themselves as challenged individuals and not disabled.
Studies have shown that it is important for children to be encouraged by their parents to look for emotional support from different sources early on, so as to ease the emotional impact of their cerebral palsy. As children grow, so do their emotional needs. If their emotional needs are never addressed they will struggle.
Parents are not always the right source of help for their children, as their are too many emotional ties attached to the relationship. A child may find that difficult to navigate. Children are also scared about the things they know nothing about. It’s important to talk to a child about what they go through, their disorder, research and treatments.
Allow that child to be involved in decisions associated with their disability. In doing so that child’s confidence will grow. Understanding a child’s needs is the key to emotional stability for anyone growing up, but more so with a disability, however large or small their disability. Even if we see the disability as being small, emotionally it may seem twice as big.
Always be patient and tolerant. It is hard caring for someone with a disability, but it is even harder being the one having to live their life with the disability.