“We have good days and bad days just like everyone else!” tweeted a mom in our Coffee Klatch Tweetchat. Our topic was, “Different is not less! Special Needs children can have a quality life – it may not look like everyone else’s and it may not look how you originally envision it, but it can be filled with good things.” How do you convey this to your child? Find the child’s interests, skills, and passions and run with it. Then use these activities. Couple them with learning tasks to make them “tolerable.” Other kids are fascinated when they learn the “special kid” has special talents and they are more tolerant of the “oddities” of the child.

From very early on, caregivers should plan activities to allow their child to “shine”. Yes, tap into your child’s amazing potential and make sure you praise the process and his attitude not only the end results. Connect to their passion not only at school but in community events too. Their Specific Interest Area (SIA) can make volunteering in community projects fun for the entire family. For example making posters for fundraising, cooking for bake sales, helping in your local library can all happen because you focus on your child’s special interests and talents.

Caregivers have to continually validate the child’s abilities. At school it can be as simple as helping younger kids, participating in a noon time or after class club, or working in the library. The goal is help your child feel OK about himself and to try to get him to relate to others. From very early on, caregivers should plan activities to allow their child to “shine” and for his peers to see the light! Framing activities for success works at home and at school. Parents must make sure their child’s teachers know about his specific interest area(s).

Get rid of roadblocks such as guilt – kids pick up on everything! One great tweet gave us a “Recipe for a Special Needs Child’s Success” that is sure to result in positive energy to help your child blossom.

Knows he has true acceptance.
Feels no guilt.
Has a good support team.
Advice to Parents

Parents must remember to take care of themselves so they can be a better advocate and be able to guide their child to his full potential! Enter your child’s world before expecting him or her to enter yours. Help your child find the things he is good at and this can be done by being the best listener your child has. When a parent is struggling with guilt or grief about this “life unexpected” your sensitive child will catch on.

Don’t feel you have to do ALL this alone. You simply cannot! Reach out for help from your partner, family, friends, and support groups. You can put on a brave face and come out solid as a rock to your child; but your true friends will let you vent and show all your feelings. We all need to let go at times.

I find at some point, parents must STOP looking for a cause, a cure or a better treatment. They have to stop chasing professionals and put their trust in one, accept the diagnosis, and allow their child to receive the treatment/therapy and support he needs. Another mom agreed that acceptance is very important and that it is often another roadblock. When parents do not accept this “new life of adjustments”, it hampers their ability to give their best to their child and creates negative energy. We need to make the most of the choices we were given as parents – true acceptance is often the magic key. I know a proper diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference and sometimes parents need to follow their gut if something doesn’t feel quite right. Here’s hoping you can make the right decisions! It’s a fine balancing act at best!

When we focus on uncovering abilities we can change possibilities. Sometimes amid all the chaos in raising a special needs child we lose sight of just being happy. Kids with Autism (ASD), Down syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), or other special needs are, no more, no less than others. Regardless of the label a child carries – ALL children shine differently. The following quotes summarize well our Tweetchat topic today:

“Life may not be the party we expected, but as long as we’re here we may as well dance!”
“I am different, not less.” ~Temple Grandin
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” ~ Stacia Tauscher
“If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.” ~ Isaac Bashevis
“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Athlete’s Oath– Special Olympics
“All need opportunities to discover and foster our genius, so the world can be a richer place and we can be more joyful individuals.”
“Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.”
“Patience is ability to keep your motor idling when you feel like stripping your gears.”- CMS
“If you are going through hell, keep going!” – Winston Churchill

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