Raising a child with a disability brings additional challenges that other parents may not face, and it is a role that continues into adulthood. Recent research about family quality of life among families with a member with a developmental disability has shown that many families are not getting the amount of practical support that they need from friends and families. It also found that lots of families do not want to ask for help, even when they need it. This makes it more important for everyone in the community (especially those who have family and friends with a child with a disability) to step up and provide supports to these families. Many people tend to feel intimidated or unqualified to help, but I’m sure that there is at least one way that you could make a difference. Below is a list of ideas for how you can help a family with a child with a disability. I would be happy to hear any other comments as well!
- Send a card or encouraging message
- Respite! Offer to watch the person with a disability- in their own home, in your home, or take them out. Sleepovers are also nice so parents have a chance to reconnect or get away.
- Advocate for services for individuals with disabilities
- Call, text, e-mail, etc. someone
- Have a family over for dinner- including the kids
- Help spread awareness about issues
- Offer to watch kids while parent goes to night class or work meetings
- Pick up their child from school
- If you aren’t as comfortable working with a person with special needs, you can provide some special attention to typically developing siblings- take them on a date to a movie or a restaurant, have a sleepover, play games, etc.
- Offer a shoulder to cry on, or just be someone to listen
- Give someone a ride to appointments, or lend them your car
- Bring them a meal
- Don’t judge, don’t try and fix things, just listen and be there
- Go grocery shopping for them
- Offer to help with housework- cooking, cleaning, errands
- Support the family with donations of clothing, diapers, toys, etc.
- Send the parents on a date night
- Financial support- you could give them money, hold a fundraiser, or give them support that would allow them to seek educational or career goals. Medication, special equipment, and therapies can be very expensive, and some of these costs come out of pocket for families, especially those who do not have insurance coverage.
- Don’t stare in public. Please.
This post is a little bit different from my usual crafts and recipes. As you may know, I am currently a master's student in child clinical psychology. In one of my courses I had to write a paper and then present a way in which it could be applied practically. I decided to write this blog post based on the assignment because I feel like it is a good way to reach people, and I am hoping this post will go (at least a little bit) viral! Thanks for reading :)
Gardiner, E., & Iarocci, G. (2012). Unhappy (and happy) in their own way: A developmental psychopathology perspective on quality of life for families living with developmental disability with and without autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(6), 2177-2192. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.06.014