Interchange Insights | How can you support parents of kids with special needs?

It can be challenging for people who do not understand what to say or do to help parents of kids with special needs. Here are some things you can do to support them.

HANG IN THERE: You can help parents of children with special needs by being supportive, understanding and persistent.

HANG IN THERE: You can help parents of children with special needs by being supportive, understanding and persistent.

  • Don’t pretend to understand

If you pretend to understand you will come across as insincere. Ask your friend for a resource or two so you can better understand their child’s challenges and gifts. 

  • Don’t ignore their needs

If you want to invite the child to a birthday party or celebration but aren’t sure about their needs, ask if the child will be comfortable in that environment. Be open to alternate arrangements, such as an individual play date instead of the group party.

  • Don’t talk about the special needs all the time

Raising a child with special needs can be intense, and parents who spend a lot of time talking about their child’s needs with doctors, specialists, therapists and school personnel may want a break from that. Open up opportunities for friendly conversation. 

  • Don’t run away

When people don’t know how to handle a situation, they are inclined to disappear. Don’t be the friend who leaves. Parents of kids with special needs require help. Carving out time for your friend in your schedule will mean a lot.

  • Don’t take it personally if they have to cancel

When you’re dealing with children with special needs, even the best laid plans can change in an instant. Sometimes they may need a break from interacting, a day on which they don’t have to leave the house.

  • Don’t give up

Just like all of us, parents of kids with special needs need people who love them and who will stick around even when it’s complicated.

  • This article was written by Interchange Australia support worker Anne-Marie Kennedy. Interchange Australia provides a wide range of services for people with disability, older people and families with a child with autism. For information go to the website www.interchangeau.org, www.facebook.com/interchangeau or call 1300 112 334.

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