Tips For Single Parents of Special Needs Kids
We have many clients at all three locations of Cutting Edge who are single parents. I have a great deal of admiration for these parents! It requires a lot of perseverance to raise a special needs child, but raising a special needs child alone is an even greater challenge.
Your Support System
Whether you are a single parent through divorce or death, or any other circumstance, it’s critical that you establish a good support system around you. Many people have extended or immediate family who help out. We have many grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings out in our waiting rooms! We see all kinds of people helping out in this process! Often this means we are not debriefing with that other care provider but instead we are emailing with you, the parent because perhaps you had to work and could not be at the therapy session.
We try to be very sensitive to these situations. We have had many clients who have had to use family members or someone they’ve hired to bring the child to therapy as well as all of those after school activities. If your family is not available to be your support system, you might find support through your church, or organizations you are involved in.
If you need any assistance with this, we can direct you to groups who may be able to help you.
There are single parent special needs community groups that meet in real life or talk online to discuss the various challenges of raising a special needs child on your own. Often someone in your same or similar situation can help you problem-solve and give you strategies. They may be a few steps ahead of you in the process, and can give you quite a bit of help!
For our families who are single because of divorce, I encourage and challenge them to get the other parent involved and onboard, so that they have someone working with them instead of against them. It’s also important in a divorce situation to stick with a structured schedule so that there is some predictability in your day and you and your kiddo both feel like you have some control of your lives. Typically our kids struggle with transitions, so predictability gives them security.
It’s also very important to have some family time alone with your child, even if it’s just once a week. This should be something they can count on, maybe a time when you can do something fun that’s just for you guys.
But the most important thing, over all of the rest of this, is for you to take time for yourself. You have to have time for yourself to regenerate and revive and get a break. If you’re feeling tremendously stressed out it can be very helpful to meet up with a group related to your child’s issues, where I could say whatever I was feeling and the people there could relate to it. I always felt encouraged when I left these meetings! We also have parents who attend counseling themselves, which I feel is a healthy approach. People who choose to go to counseling are choosing from a healthy place. This is a great option because that counselor is not in your situation, and you can say whatever you want to say, get it off your chest and be able to work through that process of grieving or struggling, whatever you’re going through.
I hope these ideas are helpful for any of you who are single parents. If any of you are in this situation and you need some extra support, please reach out to us! We want to help you.