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How to take care and interact with a special needs child as a parent

Special needs children require more attention and specific necessities as compared to other children.

Special needs children might be afflicted by physical or learning disability, chronic diseases, and cognitive or psychiatric problems.

What qualify children as special needs children?

Children are classified as special needs when they are afflicted by a variety of conditions and impairments

Special needs children require constant care and attention to prevent their condition from worsening.

Medical care and assistance programmes that improve the quality of life for the special needs may extend to long term or lifelong cost, especially those with life-threatening conditions or severe learning disabilities.

Considerations for special needs children

Other educational methods might be required for special needs children, depending on the severity of their conditions.

Children with physical disability may have difficulties communicating through verbal cues, which require assistance from programmes to be trained in other types of communicating methods and to apply those skills in real life settings.

Children with cognitive impairment may require experts to address the problems they face and find various methods that will fit them. It helps them to understand the lesson and move on to a more advance stage of learning.

Training and assisting programmes for special needs children prepare them for the real life settings, and to help them create ways to improve their learning and development in life.

How do parents and caretakers take care of special needs children?

Taking care of children with special needs are challenging, as daily duties can be hard to proceed when the child do not cooperate due to certain reasons.

Special needs children eating habits and their diets

Special needs children may have difficulties eating, swallowing, chewing, digesting due to reasons such as:

  1. Physical issues

  2. Limited mobility

  3. Learning disability

Special needs children may take a longer time to independently feed themselves.

The development of skills, such as speech, language, and coordination improves their quality of life.

Parents may consider asking advice from their general practitioners or specialist doctors for help with special needs children. For example,

● Asking speech and language therapist for physical issues.

● Asking occupational therapist for advice in aids for bowls, cups, plates, etc.

● Asking physical therapist or occupational therapist for advice in the children’s correct eating posture.

● Asking dietitian about the child’s diet, especially if parents are concern over their child’s eating habits.

Special needs children sleeping habits

Special needs children may face sleeping problems from physical issues, such as muscle spasms and breathing difficulties from health problems.

Occasionally, special needs children does not understand why and when they should sleep.

Parents may discuss with their general practitioners on ways to improve their child’s sleep. Should need arise, the general practitioner may refer them to a sleep specialist or a psychologist.

Potty training

Most of the children around 2 to 3 years old are ready to learn how to use a toilet. However, special needs children may require more time before they are ready.

Certain challenges hinders special needs children in learning how to use a toilet, for example:

  1. Learning disability.

  2. Impaired mobility.

  3. Lack of movement skills.

  4. Lack of muscle tone.

Some children might not ever learn how to use the toilet independently, which may require procedures such as permanent colostomy or ileostomy.

Continence specialist doctor can be referred to when special needs children are unable to control their bladder or bowel.

An occupational therapist may advise on special potties or toilets seats if the child requires any aid in sitting or in any bathroom settings.

A physiotherapist can be referred to regarding movements and posture of their child, and how the parents may handle them.

How to communicate with special needs children

Special needs children faces difficulties in communication with others.

Their communication skills may develop slower than others, or might be affected by physical conditions or learning disabilities.

A parent should seek a speech and language therapist for speech problems faced by their child.

Medical care for special needs children and infants in Singapore

In Singapore, there are various organizations that provide medical care for special needs children and infants. Below are the few listed organizations for special needs children and infants.

MINDS Clinic provide detailed consultation on health concerns, approaches, referrals, recommendations, screening, clinical examinations and mental capacity assessments.

Enabling Guide listed various medical and dental care services in their service directory for children with special needs.

● The Office of the Public Guardian provides a list of contacts from dentist for children with special needs.

Assistance and programmes for special needs children and infants in Singapore

In Singapore, various organizations come up with programmes and assisting schemes to assist parents with special needs children and infants.

National Council of Social Services (NCSS) have created various early intervention programmes and assistive schemes suitable for infants and children.

Learning Support (LS) and Development Support (DS) programmes are available to assist preschool children with mild developmental needs.

● Integrated Child Care Programme by Early Childhood Development Agency is catered to children that require low level Early Intervention support.

Children Disability Homes offer residential care for children with disabilities for long-term and short-term.

Tips and suggestions for raising a special needs child

Taking care of special needs children can be a difficult task, but rewarding as well.

Parents should aim to learn everything about their child, regardless of diseases or conditions that afflicted them.

To improve their health, life-long developments and emotional feelings, parents should research, read and reach out to relevant organizations in providing the best care for their children.

For special needs children, parents should:

  1. Acknowledge the preconception and biases in their heart regarding people with impairments, then learning how to think positively when they see people with impairments.

  2. Not just focus on their weakness, but acknowledge their strength and help them get better in life.

  3. Learn more about their child. Understand what they enjoy doing or dislike doing. Know what makes them smile, laugh, angry or sad. Be involved in their child’s life.

  4. Have a collaborative partnership with people that are involved in the child’s life. This includes the doctors, teachers, relatives and or friends.

  5. Make their home, school, community, and neighbourhood inclusive in order to improve their child’s physical and psychological aspects in life.

  6. Try to remove limitations that may stunt their child’s growth, which allows them to succeed in doing things that they are interested or in life.

  7. Research and study about the impairments and interventions that are related to their child’s condition.

  8. Think about their child’s self-efficacy and independency, and prepare is needed in the future.

  9. Have a mindset about development and growth.

  10. Bring their child out often to expose them to new things.

  11. Have interactions with their child, also encouraging their child to interact with those who are disabled and not disabled for better understanding.

  12. Involve their child with others, for example, siblings and relatives.

  13. Continue learning from people who are disabled, knowing such knowledge and experience from others may change the parent’s and child’s life for the better.

  14. Be open-minded. Learn to accept, be willing to deal with messes and have fun with their child.

I hope the information available helps you to understand more about special needs infants and children. The information of resources, schemes and assisting programmes listed in the article may provide better options and methods in improving your child’s quality of life.

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