By Montserrat P Sociats
It is rightly said that the most important phase for the families with special needs children is to accept their condition. Because with acceptance comes awareness, and with awareness comes action.
It is common to encounter many parents with special kids who are in a state of denial. Once the parents are informed about a diagnosis by the doctors, or attention is drawn by school teachers, or other health professionals, the thought process would include self-questioning such as “how can this happen in our family?” “Could the doctors be wrong?” “Maybe things will get better in due course”. They often spend a lot of time visiting different specialists, hoping to hear what they want to hear, and not necessarily the reality.
The situation may become more complicated as the condition of the child deteriorates further and the parent refuses to accept that their child is behaving and acting differently or abnormally when compared to other children.
It takes a while before the parents realise the truth of the situation and then gradually accept it so that they can find options and move forward.
One of the normal responses of the parents also involves getting frustrated. They start blaming themselves for doing something wrong, which led to their child having special needs. Some traditions, religious teachings, cultural world view are all to blame for this self-blame. In many cases this could lead to conflict between parents, and also sometimes parental depression.
A very unfortunate and extreme reaction is when the parents decide to ‘hide’ the child from the world and refuse to integrate the child into any activities including social, or educational, often even refusing to talk about this child amongst family and friends. Some wealthy parents employ a nanny or maid to take care of the child in a closed room denying them even basic consideration as a human being.
However, on the other hand, if the family accepts the child’s condition, things will start getting better. That is the moment when the parents start to work for their child and start seeking the appropriate intervention including therapy and education for the child with special needs. In this, the parents could receive help from schools, hospitals, or from educational centres or special educational facilities.
Many well organised special needs centres have full time counsellors who can support and work with the parents to overcome their inhibitions, identify appropriate plans of action for their children, work with cross functional teams, and periodically interact and help guide progress towards implementation to ensure the child receives the best of care and attention so that they can achieve their full potential.
Many a times the parents are just in need of a person to listen to their worries and feelings without any judgement. In this busy world, not many persons have others to turn to when in time of such needs. Counsellors could play a very important role here.
* The author is counsellor at HOPE Qatar Centre for Special Needs- website www.hope-qatar.org; contact numbers 55385687, 33620491.
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