Malai Sontheimer BAc MBAcC Dip Psychosynthesis MBACP
Children and adults with special needs are often highly sensitive and therefore much more able to pick up upon people’s feelings and attitudes than the average person. For example, one mother told me that her son was able to pour drinks with his father but would always spill them with her.
When we researched it, it emerged that she was worried about her son not being able to do it, while his dad just assumed he could.
I believe the attitude of a parent or carer can directly affect the ability of the child to learn. The more content parents can be in themselves, the more they believe in their child, the more space and possibility the child has for development.
Due to their great ability to sense what goes on inside other people, children and adults with special needs are very good at pushing their parent’s and carer’s buttons; for example playing helpless when they are capable of a lot more...
So the relationship between parent and child is vital for the child’s progress, and as we all get so emotionally caught up with our children, to have some objectivity from a counsellor can be extremely beneficial.
Most parents of children with special needs have to take them to see many professionals. They will ask many questions about the children but who will ask the parent how it is for them, coping with a child with such difficulties.
Parents have to continuously struggle to keep things together. The demands and strains on them and their families are enormous. Having a child with special needs causes lots of intense feelings and thoughts.
Where is the space for the parents, where they can air their feelings?
It is a great shock when you first find out that your child has special needs. It is one of the most difficult experiences a parent has to face. How the diagnosis is delivered is of vital importance and will forever imprint itself on your memory. It can be done without skill and can leave permanent scars on the parent. What a difference it would make to have a counsellor available to support the parent through this major life changing experience.
Most parents of special needs children have to fight for their children’s needs to be met, particularly educationally. Most parents of mainstream children never have to sit through reviews where everything about your child is discussed by a group of professionals.
However well meaning, teachers, social workers, psychologists, etc. are, it is their job but your child and the feeling of exposure and anxiety about the outcome can be immense.
Having a child with special needs is a continuous challenge. I wish for all parents in this situation to receive the kind of individual support they feel they need in order to create the best possible living experience for themselves and their whole family.