If you have a special needs child, you know how much work, both physically and mentally, that can involve. Of course, you naturally want to keep them safe, but you should also concentrate on building independence by giving them the best services and support to make the most of their potential.
Try Not to Be Overprotective
It’s easy to lean toward becoming overprotective because you want to keep your special needs child from harm. However, building independence in your child is something you need to think about. Your child needs to learn how much they can do on their own. Here are some ways to build up their confidence, so they become less reliant on you.
One simple and easy way to start building independence is to provide your child with choices, so they begin to assume more control over their life. For example:
- Let them decide between putting on a red shirt or a brown shirt.
- Ask them whether they want an apple or a banana for a snack.
- Give them the choice of putting their pajamas on or brushing their teeth first.
Avoid Doing Things for Them
If your child is capable of getting dressed by themselves or brushing their own hair, allow them to do it. Avoid getting impatient with them – just factor in some extra time. Of course, it might be easier for you to do it for them, but this doesn’t help them develop independence over time. If a task seems difficult, keep giving them opportunities to practice and improve.
It’s a mistake to make everything too easy just so your child will succeed. Develop a strategy to provide them with tasks that can only be achieved with some effort or practice. Your child will begin to realize that they can do things if they work hard and put their mind to it. If they continue to struggle with a task, think of ways to adapt it to their current abilities. As they get better, you can continue to make adjustments to build their independence.
Use Assistive Devices
Special devices can be a big help and come in many forms – special utensils, switches, buttons, or communication devices – whatever works to make life easier for both of you. Such resources are designed to support and help your special needs child become more successful and independent.
Establish goals for your child to work toward. Angle these toward their interests and what they would like to achieve. Even if your special needs child is non-verbal, you can make use of their body language and progress in therapy to help set goals to work on. Having goals also provides more incentive and motivation because your child will be working toward things they find meaningful.
Collaborate With Teachers and Therapists
Find ways to cooperate to create a consistent approach to building skills and encouraging independence. Open communication is important because it allows you to collaborate on strategies that are working out well and devise new plans for things that are not working. Everyone needs to be on the same page.
Building Independence – Caring Healthcare Can Help Your Special Needs Child
Based in Columbia, SC, Caring Healthcare works with special needs children and their family caretakers to overcome challenges and develop skills to embrace their potential and become more independent. If you need help, talk to one of our counselors to see how we can help your special needs child to thrive.