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Understanding disabled children & family dynamics

Parents of children with disabilities or disorders like autism, cerebral palsy etc. need to devote considerable time and energy to parenting. Does this impact their relationship with spouses/partners? Yes it does.

Every child is unique and has different habits, ways and abilities. It is for the parents to find the strategies that are to be used in day to day life. Some days can go by smoothly while others can be challenging and tough.

Naturally the parents not only have to become aware about what the medical condition implies, they also need to understand the individual needs of their children.

A child with disabilities influences the dynamics of a family. While one parent may take over the role of primary caregiver, the other may not get involved a lot. This can cause stress on the marriage and bonding between the families particularly if there are other children.

Denial, blaming each other, getting angry, feeling helpless, financial pressures are some emotions that parents may experience when the child is diagnosed with a medical condition. These negative emotions are natural and need to be faced and not suppressed however, it is also advisable to ensure that they are not permanent. The reaction to an autism diagnoses will vary as every person feels things differently.

"Parents need to work together and support to be able to take care of children. The whole responsibility cannot be out on one parent only and it is a joint efforts, "says Ananthi Kathir, a parent.

Here are a few things for parents of children with disabilities, disorders to consider:

  1. Staying positive is the key to deal with any negative situation.

  2. Talk to each other and share your inner thoughts, not hide them.

  3. Get more information about the child's condition as it will help bring some clarity.

  4. Make a list of priorities and act accordingly.

  5. Talk to the siblings of the child and explain the condition to them, create awareness.

  6. Seek support from family and friends when you feel stuck.

  7. Understand how you can support each other by performing different roles.

  8. Join support groups where you can interact with families like yours.

  9. Take out some time for each other every now and then.

  10. Do activities together as a family as that will bring you closer.

  11. If it gets too bad, talk to counselor and try to find a solution.

  12. Don't be ashamed of feeling tired or negative at times, it is natural.

  13. Take care of yourself, a happy you means a happy family.

  14. Be patient, everything takes time to fall into the right place.

Shashi Rekha is a working parent from Chennai and says that understanding each other is important.

At times, personality differences, lack of communication may cause the partners to remain unaware of what their spouse are hoping through emotionally. Support of family can make a huge difference too, unfortunately many a times, this support and help from other family members is not forthcoming. Shashi Rekha , parent

Remember no two days will be same, there will be days when you will feel lost and incomplete. Be easy on yourself and your partner. Every relation goes through ups and downs and these are times when the strength of love is under test. Keep the faith and be strong!

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