Give children with physical disabilities independence

Classroom Guyana

Hot Momma’s advice: Children with physical disabilities are children first! Allow them to experience freedom and independence today!

Getting yourself and your child ready for the day requires extra time, a lot of thinking and quite a bit of preparation. You wake up, start cooking for your family, get your child’s bag together, put his/her lunch in a container, check his/her homework, check and make sure s/he has his/her uniform pressed, comb his/her hair, get his/her shoes on and take him/her off to school. Whew! However, this can be simplified by giving your child the one thing they are craving anyway, independence. Allowing your child to explore and experience life for him/herself can help support his/her development as an individual.

However, if you are a parent of a child with a physical disability such as cerebral palsy, Spina bifida, paralysis or any other type of physical impairment, it is a struggle to allow for this type of growth and freedom. My Hot Momma always said it’s important to focus on what your child can do, not what s/he cannot. This is easier said than done and throughout parenthood with a child who has a physical disability it is easy to fall into the place of doing everything for your child. It’s easier, saves time, and seems beneficial to just do it yourself. However, it can be hindering your child’s development and abilities by not allowing your child to do tasks s/he is capable of!

Here are a few ideas on how to help your child with a physical disability gain confidence and independence:
Give opportunities to experience success one step at a time.
Tasks are simplified when broken down step by step. Break down these tasks and celebrate the success of each level reached. For example combing your hair can be broken down into: 1. Find comb 2. Pick up comb, 3. Raise comb to head 4. Move comb through hair 5. Put down comb. Taking daily tasks that your child is capable of and breaking them down to experience success after each one is great motivation and also allows your child to experience independence.

Get moving
Exercise is so important for mental and emotional health and often something overlooked when thinking of children with physical disabilities. It is important to build up their strength and flexibility so they can accomplish more independent living tasks. Every child is different with different capabilities, but having your child move and stretch daily will help his/her mood and bodies. Go to a doctor to ask about specific exercises for your child!

Help students help them at school!
First of all, it is so important to have your child attend school. Second of all it’s important to help pupils and teachers at the school understand your child’s abilities. Sitting with them throughout a day and modelling assistance for him/her is a perfect way to set the tone for continued success in independence at school!

Giving your child opportunities to think through processes and think for him/herself is so important when teaching your child independence. Learning how to critically think, how to solve problems and think through ideas and different ways of doing things is such a crucial part of life. This holds true for parents of any child. Having your child learn there is more than one correct way of doing things, and allowing your child to make mistakes and fail is an important part of life. Showing your child the way and gradually increasing his/her responsibilities will help lead your child in developing independence for life!

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