If you have a child with special needs, you are not alone. Alex Dwek knows firsthand just how lonely and overwhelmed you may feel. His eight-year-old daughter, Maya, has a chronic illness that affects her development, but doctors have not been able to diagnose it. He founded the Maya Rose Project to raise awareness regarding his daughter’s condition and to help other parents who have kids with disabilities. Below, he offers some tips for helping your children complete everyday tasks so they can lead fulfilling lives.
Getting Ready for School
Children with special needs require extra time to complete simple tasks, and if you are frustrated, they are likely to get upset. Give yourselves enough time to get ready in the mornings so neither of you has to rush. You can also ensure your child’s success by breaking up tasks into smaller steps. For example, when it comes to getting dressed, start with underwear and socks before moving on to pants, shirts, shoes, and a jacket.
Sometimes, issues with motor skills make mealtimes a challenge. Encourage independent eating by starting with simple finger foods. When you introduce your children to utensils, give them plenty of time to practice, and praise them when they do well. Let them do as much as possible on their own, but offer your help if they need it.
When it comes to academics, take advantage of the resources at your children’s school. Many schools employ specialists who have experience teaching children with developmental disabilities. You can also help your children do well academically by sitting down with them in the evenings and going over their homework. Stay patient with them, even if they get the answers wrong, and do what you can to gently guide them toward the correct answers.
You should not pressure your children into making friends, but you can put them in situations that allow them to spend time with their peers outside of an academic setting. Research sports, dance classes, and play groups in your area that will accept your children and help them thrive.
If you have a child with special needs and want to connect with other parents in the same situation, turn to Alex Dwek. Visit his website to learn more about the Maya Rose Project, or email Alex directly if you want to get involved with the cause.