The truth is that they also have emotional, social, and informational needs. These might seem less important, but they’re absolutely fundamental. If we want our society to keep moving forward and become a place where everyone in it can live a good life, we have to be aware of the true needs. If this is something you want, keep reading!
When a person finds out that their child has a disability, they have an endless list of questions, sometimes without answers. Doctors are even unaware sometimes that families of children with disabilities have an enormous need for information.
In the first place, the family needs to understand the disability. That’s a fundamental part of accepting and internalizing this new reality in the family. But it’s not just that. The family also needs to know what steps to take from then on. That means both how to parent and what resources are available for support.
The truth is that this need for information will never go away. As the child grows and develops, there will always be changes that will raise new questions. In each stage of life there will be new situations that will require new information.
Lastly, it’s also important to raise awareness and educate the public about disabilities. Even more important, perhaps, is for schools and people closest to the family to get informed.
2. Emotional needs
But all the uncertainty that families of children with disabilities feel doesn’t come all by itself. We have to remember that it usually comes along with negative emotions. That’s why emotional support is so essential here. Their mental health depends on it.
If it’s normal for parents to worry about their children, imagine what goes on in the heads of families when they get the diagnosis. It can be very scary. It’s also normal for them to feel powerless because they can’t undo it. They might even feel guilty, thinking that what’s happening to their child is their fault.
Families of children with disabilities also need support when the anxiety, anger, and sadness so common in caretakers comes. Their first step will be to understand that these emotions are normal. Then they can work through them to reduce the intensity and duration of these feelings.
3. Social needs
Lastly, we can’t forget about another foundation of anybody’s well-being: social support. Families of children with disabilities need support from their friends and relatives.
Having people to talk openly to and share thoughts and emotions with without feeling judged for it will be a huge help. It will empower them to overcome the challenges. But it goes beyond that too. It will also help them be better caretakers.
We have a ways to go in understanding and supporting families of children with disabilities. A big step, though, is to remember that while material needs are always important in these situations, money doesn’t solve everything. Information and support are of the utmost importance.
Images courtesy of Nathan Anderson, Josh Appel, and Audi Nissen.