Change is hard for all of us. Whether it’s moving, vacation, divorce, or something smaller, change taxes our emotional resources. You can help your special needs child cope with change by being prepared and staying calm. Of course, we know that’s easier said than done!
In our continuing efforts to support families of children with physical and mental conditions that require ongoing and additional care, we created this post as a resource for when you need to guide your special kid through a stressful situation. Life is change, so what are we going to do?
Whether it’s a fun family vacation, a holiday filled with excitement or a new social situation, a little preparation can help your special needs child feel more comfortable transitioning to something out of the routine. Sit down and simply talk with your child, before anything changes. Explain what is about to happen and answer his or her questions as honestly as you can. If you don’t know exactly how it will play out, say so, and make a strategy for how to deal with the unknown.
Planning and preparation are key in these situations. Have the tools and props you need at your fingertips. Packing the right bag means your journey will be more comfortable. If your child reacts with anxiety to a change of environment, consider a weighted vest, compression shirt, or weighted blanket for comfort. Vacations can be loud and holidays are overstimulating, so plan for places or times to escape sensory overload; create a refuge of quiet and calm so your child can have some down time, recover, and try to get back to the fun.
Preparing your child requires preparing yourself. And by now you know that during change, whether it’s positive or negative, any child can respond with regression. Whether it’s a major milestone you’ve just reached, like advanced speech development, or a hurdle like potty training, you just may find yourself three steps back when your child is reacting to a major change in his or her life and environment.
Don’t let those moments get you down, and don’t let your child feel disappointed either. You have made great accomplishments thus far, and you will get back there. The return of a behavior you thought you’d worked out, such as bedwetting, is normal and to be expected. Never shame the child or worry aloud that you aren’t making progress. Progress is slow, not always steady, and not even always linear. Life events are known to cause setbacks, so be aware that they might happen. Have what you need, like wipes and the right words, and use your learned skillset to stay the course.
Take Care of Your Needs
Keep yourself healthy and well, and you will take better care of your special needs child. Make sure they are sleeping on a schedule, and you should be, too. Keep your diet balanced and healthy, even during holidays and trips that are packed with sugary snacks. Maintain routine, and take breaks when necessary to drink water, breathe, meditate, and remember that you are doing great! At About Kids Home Health we know that the struggles and the victories come in quick succession. We are here to support and guide parents and caregivers through all sorts of transitional situations.