I know too well that parenting comes with its challenges. There’s no guidebook to say if you’re doing it right. I’m sure we are all doing the best job we can.
But parenting becomes even more challenging when you think that your child has additional needs. The parenting books don’t tell you anything about that now, do they? There’s very little guidance out there unless you search for it. It can be quite a minefield and very overwhelming.
As a parent, you may have an instinctual feeling that something isn’t quite ‘right’ with your child but you can’t quite put your finger on it. You may be picking up on behaviours or mannerisms that you don’t think are ‘quite right’.
I know, I get it, I have had the same feelings. 3 of my 5 children have additional needs on varying degrees. I’ve been there, in the situation when you’re doubting yourself, watching your children struggle at home and school. Not knowing what to do for the best to help your child and family.
Over the last 10 years of raising my concerns about my own children’s additional needs, I thought I’d pass on some words of wisdom from my own experiences and give my advice to any parent who thinks their child has an additional needs.
PIN ME FOR LATER
Take Care Of Yourself
I am putting this bit of advice first, as I can’t stress enough how important it is to look after yourself as a parent. You need to keep that cup full to be able to take care of your children. Lots of self-care is required. Remember self-care is not selfish.
Do Your Research
I would advise for you to do your research.
What do you think is going on with your child? Based on what you think is going on, what techniques and strategies can you try?
Keep A Diary Of Your Concerns And Your Childs Behaviours
Before you raise your concerns with anyone, keep a diary of events, your concerns and your child’s behaviours or symptoms. See if you can identify a pattern or triggers. Also how you tried to help or handle your childs behaviour and/or symptoms. What you have identified is working and what is not.
Raise Your Concerns
Depending on your child’s age will depend on who you raise your concerns with. The best place to start is your GP.
Other professionals that you can raise your concerns with are your health visitor, early years practitioner, nursery, school, SENCO, school nurse.
Keep a diary of meetings and an outline of the meetings, the outcomes and any plans that have been put in place. Keep a record of medical appointments, letters and reports from professionals.
Educate yourself on your childs rights and your rights as their parent.
Familiarise yourself with the SEND Code Of Practice is statutory guidance for organisations that work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Local Authorities, Schools, Early Years Providers and others must ‘have regard to’ the SEND Code Of Practice to ensure children with additional needs have the same opportunities as other children and reach their full potential.
From my experience, no one openly directs you towards this information.
Speak To Other Parents
Speak to other parents who have similar experiences. I personally have found that speaking and befriending other parents who are in similar situations or have experience in additional needs has been extremely valuable. They live the life you are living. They have the experience that the professionals do not have. They can give guidance when dealing with the ‘system’
Speak Up & Advocate For Your Child
This one is a must! Speak up and advocate for your child. You are your child’s voice. If you think something is not ‘quite right’ you are within your rights to voice this, without judgement.
In fact, section 6.20 of The SEND code of practice states that ‘In particular, parents know their children best and it is important that all professionals listen and understand when parents express concerns about their child’s development. They should also listen to and address any concerns raised by children and young people themselves.’
Remember That You Know Your Child Better Than Anyone Else!
When raising your concerns and working with professionals, remember that you know your child better than anyone. You are the one who has raised them, the one who is experiencing their struggles, symptoms and behaviours.