One of the biggest hurdles for parents when it comes to caring for their special needs children are getting the extended family on board with their plans and decisions. While it might not seem like that big of a deal initially, it can be incredibly helpful to have close family members around to back parents up in the daily grind. They can be a major source of support, an important network for physical, social and emotional needs and part of that village that is so important in the raising of any child. Extended family members can get involved in many ways. Consider just a few that are listed here.
Extended family can help with a lot of the legwork. It is no joke that special needs children often must be ferried to many more classes and appointments than their peers attend. They may have many doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions, and sports or educational meetings. While some school districts may cover some of these transportation needs, it may be too much for parents to handle themselves, especially if they have other children.
Parents should also tell extended family members what their children will need at family gatherings. Some special needs children do not respond well to bright lights, loud noises, crowds or new foods. Extended family members may want to be involved by coming up with special ways to connect with these children, such as in a therapeutic play or with specific foods.
Finally, the extended family is integral when it comes to emotional support. Sometimes parents can handle all of the day-to-day grinds but feel that there in no one understanding to whom they can turn when they need to vent. Cousins, sisters, parents, and grandparents can do something quite wonderful for parents of special needs children when they simply take time to listen to their struggles.