Tireless, proud, attentive, determined, overwhelmed, stressed, fatigued…these are words that describe parents of children with disabilities. Parenting, at its best, is a stressful, full-time job, but when a child has a disability, even more is demanded of parents.
In addition to play dates and extracurriculuars, there may also be therapies, tutoring, and additional school meetings to attend. Homework often requires the full attention and support of parents, who probably just came home from a day at work and still need to get dinner on the table.
It is not surprising that studies show that parents of children with disabilities have significantly higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and that adolescents with both learning disabilities and ADHD have lower levels of secure attachments with parents than do other groups of children. All of this paints a grim picture. So what is a parent to do?
The first rule for caring for your child is to first care for yourself. You cannot give of yourself if you are too fatigued. You cannot be patient if you are too overwhelmed. You cannot be supportive if you have no support. Although the days are packed, you must find time to pencil in something for yourself. First take care of your basic needs:
From there, tackle the more complicated self-care tasks:
Caring for a child with a disability can be time-consuming and stressful. Everyone will be happier and more successful in the end if parents find time to take care of themselves.
Blogger Stephanie Dunne, Ed.S., is the Center Director at Springer School and Center. Prior to coming to Springer, Stephanie practiced as a school psychologist in public and private schools for ten years. If you have questions, please contact Director of Learning Programs Carmen Mendoza at .