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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just Starting Out?

What is a Special Need?

A special need is anything from struggles in academics to a learning disability, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Tourette Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and everything in between.

Things to Remember

Your child was created by God, and is precious to Him.  Your child is a gift to you from the Lord.  The Bible calls your child a reward!

Pray, pray, pray.  Pray about the little things as well as the big ones.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!  For example, if you encounter a doctor/therapist hostile to your desire to homeschool, find another doctor.  If one way of potty training doesn't work, try a different approach.  If your child throws fits with one curriculum, use a different one or put it aside, give it some time, and try again later.

Network.  I can't tell you how important it is to network with others who are homeschooling special needs children!  You may find someone who can recommend a therapist, or a great curriculum that works for your child, or someone with whom you can share struggles and be encouraged.  Most importantly, you will find friends!

Things that Have Worked for us

Love.  Love your child as much as he will let you!  Hug him, wrestle with him, sing to him, tickle him.  Tell him how much you love him, how much Jesus loves him--it's okay to smother him with love!  He is God's precious gift to you!

Research.  Find out everything you can about your child's special challenge(s).  Visit your local library, explore the Internet, ask questions of knowledgeable people (your doctor, therapist, veteran homeschool mom, etc.).  Become your child's expert, because no one else will!

Read.  Read, as much as you can, as often as you can, to your child.  I read to my son whenever my baby was nursing.  My son learned to sight read, just by knowing by heart the words on each page.  Reading will improve his listening skills and attention skills, and also provide snuggle time!

Involve.  Involve the rest of the family, when possible.  Teach your other children how to love your special child, and how to help him.  Teach them that not only are they previous, but their brother/sister is also precious to you and to the Lord.  Involve your other children with any therapy or other work; help them to understand that the family works as a team, and sometimes one team member needs more attention/help than the others.

Yourself.  Take time for yourself.  This is not selfish advice!  First, you need to have time with just you and the Lord, to receive His refreshment and strength for the job He has given you.  Second, you need time just to yourself, even if it's 15 minutes snatched her or there.  I like to retreat to my bedroom right after lunch and work a crossword puzzle or read a book for a little bit.  Then, I'm ready to hit the trail running, with energy for the rest of the day.

Others.  The first others is family members.  Take time with other members in your family--especially your spouse, and then other children.  If possible, find a babysitter and take a walk or go for coffee with your spouse.  Your marriage and family will be strengthened.  The second others is your support team--friends, extended family, families in your homeschool support group.  Help these people understand your situation; involve them when you can.

Help.  Please don't be afraid to ask for help!  This is so hard for Christians, but it shouldn't be.  It is okay to feel overwhelmed!!  The Lord tells us to minister to our brothers and sisters, but so many times we can't because we don't know when they have a need.  How will they know your need unless you share it?

Finally, rest in the Lord, and know that He has your path laid out.  He will not forsake you; He will guide you and carry you, and give you blessings beyond measure!

1 comment:

Missy Whitley said...

What a great, positive read ;)