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4 Tips to Help You Navigate the Challenges of Raising a Child with Complex Needs

July 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

According to the National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs, 12.8 percent of children have special needs in the USA. For the parents faced with raising a child with special needs, life and parenthood can look vastly different to that of their peers. The journey from learning your child has been diagnosed with a lifelong condition that may result in physical, emotional or learning difficulties is often filled with both highs and lows, and follows a path forged by love and determination. From medical appointments to educational choices and planning for your family’s financial future, parenting a child with complex needs can be a rollercoaster. However, by being better prepared, you can navigate the journey successfully and help your child thrive.

Educate Yourself On Your Child’s Condition – The Good, Bad And What’s To Come

If there is one thing that weighs heavily on the minds of parents of children with complex needs, it is the uncertainty. Educating yourself on your child’s conditions, treatments and help that is available does more than help you feel more in control; it gives you hope. For the financial aspects, resources like the Special Needs Planning Guide, along with the government’s benefits website, can provide useful information on grants, aid and financial assistance available. 

For medical treatment and information on the condition, head to individual organization websites, or speak to your child’s doctor. Both of them can easily provide information on available treatments, the future, and everything attached to it, including emerging medical treatments, educational options, and a special needs life planning checklist for families, including additional steps for certain medical conditions. For instance, a child with cerebral palsy will probably need assistance throughout their life, and a cerebral palsy life care plan will ensure that they are supported even after childhood.

Find Your Support Network – At Home And Beyond It

Having a support network is vital for a parent of a child with complex needs. It provides emotional support for both parent and child, and in some cases can be a useful route to discovering helpful resources. Along with a strong network of family and friends, look into emotional support groups for your child and their careers in the local community. If your child attends school, a local school or district group can help them find commonalities with children in similar circumstances. Finally, consider reaching out to larger non-profit disability support organizations like Reaching for the Stars, March of Dimes, and The Arc. These organizations and many more are great for relieving stress, expressing difficulties, and offering hope for families dealing with special needs.

Take Steps To Get Your Finances In Order

Over 54 million Americans face the rising costs of living with special needs, according to the National Organization of Disability. While the average cost of raising a child is pegged at just above $240,000, that cost rises substantially when you are the parent to a child with complex needs. One example: Autism Speaks estimates that the cost of raising a child with autism or intellectual disability to be between $1.4-$2.4 million. 

Find out what benefits and aid you are entitled to. Federally, programs like Social Security Disability Income and tax breaks can provide much needed financial relief on household expenditure and medical bills. To access information on the resources applicable to you and your child, the Benefits Finder questionnaire can provide quick and clear information on the aid available for parents of children with special needs. The financial planning does not stop there either. Make it a priority to implement a regular household budget along with automated savings dedicated to upcoming medical bills and educational costs. Finally, consider securing medical, income, and life insurance for yourself, your spouse and your child where applicable. 

Leave Time For Yourself

While it may seem like the majority of your time is spent caring for and helping your child to grow, it is also important that parents leave time for self-care. This can be incorporated into simple daily habits, as well – for instance, by waking up before your child to practice mindfulness or meditation for 20 minutes a day. Alternatively, you can rely on family for babysitting for a few hours and pursue a hobby of yours. It can even be as small as adopting healthier eating habits to support your physical and mental health. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Raising a child with complex needs can be challenging and filled with unplanned surprises. However, by thinking ahead and making use of the resources around you, it can be a much easier and smoother journey – one that is rewarding and filled with love.


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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.