Parenting a child is a combination of the joy and love one feels for their child, but also some challenges in terms of ensuring they receive the support they need to thrive in life. There is no one way to parent a child with a disability, because there is no such thing as “what it means to have a disability”. To parent a child with a disability can bring unique challenges. Some of will be in the form of information, others will be financial, educational, and social. The truth is, most parents are not expecting a child with a disability, so when their child is a born, the first step is to gain information; become educated on the nature of their child’s disability. This first step is extremely important because it empowers the parents to be equal partners with their child’s doctors and other practitioners in making key treatment and other decisions.
Today, there is a great deal of information available both in traditional journals, books, and on the Internet. Parents must be careful to ensure the information is not just factual, but also reliable. It is always best to discuss any information with their child’s practitioners to ensure they understand everything. One of the phrases that is so common today is “knowledge is power”. And, it is. However, knowledge also needs to be understood in various contexts, and the primary context is the lived experiences of their child.
Second parents will have financial concerns, challenges and decisions to make. There are many new technological advancements that can support their child to live a more independent lifestyle. But, these technologies aren’t always easy to come by, nor are they cheap. Parents will need to confer with the experts in this matter; people who understand the ways in which technology can assist, support, and empower children with disabilities. These parents will also need to make choices; some technologies may be better than others, but then other technologies will be less expensive. It will depend on the financial situation of the family and the availability of funds for technological aids where they live.
Although people with disabilities in Canada have a higher degree of inclusion than ever before, there is still a struggle towards complete equality. Parents will have to make a broad spectrum of decisions regarding their child’s educational needs. An increasing number of parents are advocating for their child to attend an integrated program rather than be separated due to the nature of their disability. Many schools across Canada are finding it increasingly possible to offer integrated programs, as well as teacher’s assistants and other professionals to provide support for students with disabilities in the classroom.
It’s important to be practical as well since many forms of disability can be complicated, difficult to cope with, and the parents often find themselves running from one treatment to another, one doctor to another, and trying in vain to help their child. For example, children who cope with mental health issues such as Opposition Defiance Disorder can be particularly challenging for their parents. There are also many conditions which are still poorly understood or have few treatment options. This places an enormous degree of stress on the parents and also the other children in the family.
No one can provide parents with a specific guide on how to raise their child who has a disability. The good news in Canada is that support is available in the form of the The Child Disability Tax Credit. The benefit provides families with up to $224.58 per month for children under the age of eighteen. This benefit can certainly help families (especially low-income) to ease the difficulties of these financial challenges. Disability Credit Canada provides families. In the end, perhaps the best advice is empower and believe in your child. Provide as many possible outlets for them to succeed, be independent, and believe in themselves as they go forward in life.