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A Practical Guide for Surviving as a Parent of a Special Needs Child

Raising kids with special needs can be a labor of love sometimes. While the rewards are immense, it’s a task that taxes one mentally, physically, and spiritually. If you’re the guardian of children who require extra attention, be aware of your limitations. The following information from The Imagine Project will help you measure fatigue levels and develop effective coping strategies.

Identifying Parental Fatigue

Serving the needs of a child with special needs requires focus and determination. It’s helpful to have a focused approach toward gauging your situation. There a questions factors to ask yourself, such as:

  • How’s your sleep quality?
  • How are your depressive and anxiety symptoms?
  • How’s your marital satisfaction?

One sign you’re overburdened is not getting enough sleep. If you’re having trouble achieving quality rest, you’re not alone. According to researchers, between 50 and 70 million American adults suffer from a sleep disorder. Try wearing a sleep tracker. If you discover you aren’t getting a proper snooze, you can also cut down on caffeine and alcohol.

Along with fatigue, you may be experiencing psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Having depression comes with physical effects, including nausea and high blood pressure. Anxiety attacks sometimes trigger shortness of breath and upset stomachs. Fine-tuning body awareness will increase your ability to pick up on these cues. Consult your doctor if multiple signs are present, as medicine is often necessary for intense conditions.

A single-minded focus on providing outstanding parental care can cause marital strife without you even noticing. There are heaps of online assessment tools to assist partners with this task. Depending on the results, it may make sense to start seeing a couples therapist.

Preventing Parental Fatigue

Now that you’ve made an effort to reduce existing tension, create a self-care plan to lower the odds of additional strain. Find ways of reminding yourself that no parent is perfect. Develop a social support system so there’s always someone to talk with during moments when you’re overwhelmed. Create an emergency relaxation kit for periods where solace is necessary. For instance, if a hot bath helps you reset, prepare candles and other soaking supplements to make the experience as refreshing as possible.

Have a trusted individual on speed dial that can relieve you of parenting duties while you unwind. Beware of inadvertently burdening your support network. Thankfully, there are plenty of organizations that will lend a hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

Thriving Despite Parental Fatigue

Regardless of your stress-reducing efforts, raising a child who has special needs takes its toll. You still want to hold onto your goals and sense of self. Perhaps you’ve wanted to start a business. With companies often being exclusively online, it’s possible to do this even if you’re constantly home providing care. Forming your venture as a limited liability corporation is wise. It means you’ll have less paperwork and more flexibility, in addition to certain tax advantages. Each state has varying regulations regarding LLCs. Do your homework before moving forward. However, starting a business requires a lot of hard work and dedication, so make sure this is something you can do without disrupting your work/home life balance.

Maybe earning a bachelor’s degree would make building a business easier. If so, you can do that from home also. Online schools used to be considered inadequate learning platforms. Such opinions have now been disproven. Web-based learning is exceptionally convenient, and you can earn recognition from an accredited institution no matter what schedule you’re keeping.

All parents need coping tactics at times, but raising a special needs child takes some grit and commitment. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or take time for yourself when you need it. With these tips, you can take care of yourself with the same love you give others.

The Imagine Project is a writing process that can help you deal with the challenging emotions that come up with raising a special needs child. Download the journal and try writing your own story, and if your child is old enough, he or she can write one too

Thank you Gwen Payne for writing this wonderful piece, supporting parents of Special Needs children. Raising a child with Special Needs can be challenging at times, I hope those who need it find it helpful.

Love,

Dianne

Dianne is the founder and CEO of The Imagine Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps children K-12 (and adults) process and heal from difficult life circumstances through expressive writing. Dianne has her Masters in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, is a thought leader in stress and trauma in children, has written multiple award winning books, is an international speaker, lives outside of Denver, CO, and has 3 grown children. Learn more about The Imagine Project at www.theimagineproject.org.

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