Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keeping Hope Alive - by Lynn Parsons

As the mother of two adult children with special needs and a special educator, I've seen and done a lot. One common concern among parents, especially those with more significant disabilities, is how to keep hope alive. I suggest a three part formula, including health, information, and stories.

You've probably heard before that you need to take care of yourself. But a child with multiple needs can drain your energy. When you're taking care of a child with special needs, you must take care of yourself. If you aren't getting enough rest, seek some respite care. Try to eat the most nutritious food you can find. Exercise in any way that meets your schedule. Pray. When your life is in a shambles, prayer can bring you a peace and reassurance that you can find nowhere else.

Next, you need to be armed with information.  Learn all you can about your child's disability, including proven treatments. Beware of anyone claiming a miracle cure. If you are unsure, check them out with the Better Business Bureau.

Talk to other parents and listen to their stories. Don't focus on how they didn't get the services they expected or the hardships they've faced. Look for stories of hope and success. Here's one to get you started:

When my youngest child was in first grade, her teacher told me my daughter wouldn't learn to read. I did some investigation, and taught her myself. She still has her disability, but is now finishing her freshman year at a major university. She has no accommodations or modifications. This will not work for every child, but you can believe that your child can live his or her best life. As a special educator, I've seen children achieve far beyond expectations. While no one should gamble on false hope, no one knows the future and what blessings await your child. Remember that there is an army of professionals out there who have dedicated their lives to helping children like yours.

Need resources? Check out my website at http://lynndparsons.com and visit the parent page. You may also want to check out my book, which will be available May 6, 2011. "(dis)Abilities and the Gospel: A Guide for Families and Church Leaders" helps families of faith include people of all ages with disabilities. Information about how you can get an autographed copy can be found on my blog at http://lynndeniseparsons.blogspot.com.

Lynn Parsons, MS
Educational Diagnostician
Hurst Euless Bedford ISD

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