Each member of a family is unique, although they may share similar looks, beliefs, characteristics and interests.
The differences and degrees of independence or dependence can provide opportunities to learn and grow together, or they can become sources of conflict.
Babies don’t come with instruction manuals and parenting can be hard work. Special needs children bring added challenges to a family.
Parents are often tugged in many directions at the same time, with work and other relationships demanding attention. Feelings of guilt from not spending enough time with the children mean that some parents compensate by giving gifts, relaxing expectations of behaviour or becoming tired, frustrated and angry.
Prolonged care-giving can be a source of joy and an expression of love, but at times it is also emotionally and physically draining.
Family counselling allows for these mixed feelings to be explored safely and for each member to experience being heard and how to listen with empathy.
Having a brother or sister who is Deaf or has special needs often means that your parents may not have enough time for you. You may feel that you have to grow up too soon and take on responsibilities that other kids your age don’t have. Sometimes you miss out on doing things you would like to.
Your needs are important too, but it can be hard to talk about these because you don’t want to upset your parents or you think they might not understand. Sometimes you may worry what will happen if you mum or dad or your brother or sister dies.
Celia is trained to listen to you without judging and help you find solutions for the things that bother you.
A special needs child will have an IEP (Individual Education Plan). You go along to meetings, but it’s just a bunch of professionals discussing what your child can and can’t do. They use professional jargon that you can’t understand and make goals that are too complex to follow, or don’t fit with ‘who’ you want your child to be.
It is easy to become a by-stander instead of an advocate because the whole process is confusing and you are not consulted often enough.
Yet no-one knows your child like you do. You can have valuable input into your child’s IEP.
All parents need to make informed choices about their child’s educational placements and programmes.
Celia has been a special needs teacher for many years and is familiar with the IEP process. She has worked with the Ministry of Education in developing inclusive programmes in classrooms. She will help you find solutions to ensure that your child’s education is indeed as special as your child.
© 2016 Specialised Counselling