My Child has Special Needs, Now What? First Steps Parents Should Take

Have you just received a special needs diagnosis for your child? It is important to remember that you are not alone.

If you are a parent who has just received the diagnosis others and not become isolated. Isolation is when that your child has special needs, this is a vulnerable time for you. You may have had a suspicion in the past that something was going on and knew you needed to find out what is happening. Starting the discovery process is one thing; however, receiving a diagnosis - any diagnosis - is completely different. There are a variety of responses to receiving this diagnosis, and I hope these suggestions are a great starting point in supporting you, the parent, of a child with special needs.

Breathe. Take time to absorb the news. Some responses to a special needs diagnosis may include denial, anger, fear, and a sense of loss. ‘How can this be happening to my child? How will this affect my child, my family and me? What does the future look like now?’ You might feel angry that this is happening, the dreams that you once had are now being changed. Take heart, you have experienced a loss, and a period of adjustment is
to be expected. So be kind to yourself and take time for yourself.

Call The Children’s Link Society. Call The Children’s Link Society at 403-230-9158, visit childrenslink.ca or connect on Facebook, facebook.com/childrenslink. There are Family Link Consultants who are happy to assist parents of children who have been newly-diagnosed by providing information, referrals, and support. 80 per cent of the staff have children with special needs, and have navigated a variety of systems and understand firsthand what you may be going through.

Contact Family Supports for Children With Disabilities (FSCD). FSCD is a provincial funding support program for families of children with special needs. To see if your family may qualify for services or to find out the scope of their services, call their intake line at 403-297-6022 or visit their website.  The application form can now be done online.

Click on the login box to create an account, then come back to this same page and click on ‘Apply Online’ to start the process. It may take two to four weeks for FSCD to contact you with the second portion of the application process. You can also contact The Children’s Link Society to discuss what your family’s needs are and which services may be applicable.

Connect with others. It is important to remember that you are not alone. It is crucial to connect with we start to feel that no one else is going through the same thing that we are, and we stop connecting with others, be it family or friends. Other families may
not be going through the exact same circumstance; however, they may be having the same feelings that you are. Networking with other families is a wonderful way of supporting yourself, and sharing your story and experiences may support others in need.

Also, consider joining a coffee social group through The Children’s Link Society, another support group in the community, or networking online. To view upcoming coffee socials, visit http://childrenslink.ca/Portal/ DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=5&tabid=86&director yId=176. Note: Fall 2016 schedule for Coffee Socials will be changing, so visit the link frequently for new times and locations.

Become informed. Research and collect disability-specific resources and information regarding the services and supports within your community. As you do your research, you will see that there is a broad range of
how a disability can present itself, and you will come to understand that all of the information you read or hear may not pertain to your child. As the parent, you are your child’s best advocate, knowing what their unique needs are and being able to explain the specific needs of your child are vital to accessing the correct services.

Being informed may also mean having excellent record-keeping skills. Sandra Werle has written a book called My Child My Business, which has excellent helpful hints, record-keeping options and guidelines. You can contact Sandra at sandra.werle@childrenslink.ca.

Relationships. Disability affects the entire family
unit. It affects mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. Your mental health is important and this is one of those things that you are responsible for. Visit the For counselling options at The Children’s Link Society's website for more informaiton on counselling. 

Cath is the mother of two children with special needs. Her youngest daughter has transformed into a guardian angel with her passing in 2004. Her oldest daughter was in an accident, defied the odds, and is now a Fine Arts grad. For more information about The Children’s Link Society and their services, call 403-230-9158, email info@childrenslink.ca or connect on Facebook, facebook.com/childrenslink.

 

Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2017 Calgary’s Child