Parenting a Special Child

When we do the best we can, with hope in our heart and love in our soul, we manifest a miracle!

When a child is labeled with a diagnosis like Autism/ADHD/ Cerebral Palsy etc., the parents’ life takes a complete turn and they feel a sense of disconnect with the rest of the world. They fear that teachers will only see an autistic or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) case, and not their child.  They are thrown into a world, constantly trying to cope with what this ‘alien sounding word coupled with medical jargon’ entails, what and how to say to family and friends and what the future holds for their little angel.

I have heard of and seen many cases where experts in the field of diagnosing and working with special children have virtually given up on a particular child stating that the child will never be able to learn the basics of leading an independent life. Parents, very often take this as gospel truth, and resign to their fate, give up hope, joy and desire to live life to the fullest. Very often, they stop looking for solutions that are ‘out of the box’. Yet, some begin visiting quacks and god men hoping and praying for a miracle.   Some try everything the medical world has to offer ranging from stem cell therapy to GFCF (Gluten and casein free) diets to aqua therapy to AIT (Auditory Integration Therapy), to name just a few. Not only are these expensive, but there is no guarantee that they will ‘cure’ the child! I am not saying that you do not try occupational therapy, speech therapy or enroll your kid in special education classes. All I am saying is that please do not press the panic button and do just about anything anyone suggests!

I would suggest the following if your child has been diagnosed with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder ) that includes Autism, Rett’s Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder etc; Learning Disorder that includes dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia etc; ADD–H (Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity); Down’s syndrome, Cerebral Palsy to name just a few-

  • It’s important to meet up and discuss your child’s case with experts, read relevant literature on what your child has been diagnosed with, but do not allow his ‘label’ to set limits on his capability. Empower yourself by being a part of parent support groups and take inspiration from the amazing success stories of people like Dr. Temple Grandin (professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist, and a consultant to the  livestock  industry on animal behavior.), Daniel Tammet ( an English writer, essayist and autistic savant), Chris Fonseca ( born with Cerebral Palsy, Chris is a comedian and  works with the American comedy club circuit and has written material for comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and  Jay Leno ). The common thread that strings these stories together is the indomitable spirit of the people involved and the strength of their resolve to never give in.
  • Be gentle with yourself and listen to your soul- calm down, take a deep breath and ask yourself, ‘should I try this therapy/ methodology for my kid?’ When your soul guides you, you can never go wrong.
  • Parents, there is no one in the world who knows your child better than you. Trust yourself. There are many instances where it has been the parent who has not only worked single handedly with his/her child but has been a source of inspiration to thousands around the world (Son Rise Programme, Action for Autism etc).
  • Listen to your child- Very often; it’s your child, who, in his own innocent ways will guide you towards the best possible solutions.
  • Remain updated about the latest studies and researches- You never know what might work for you. For Example, Feuersteins’ Instrumental Enrichment (FIE) enjoys a worldwide reputation for its success with low-performing students. Feuerstein’s work has seriously challenged the belief that intelligence is fixed and cannot be changed. 
  • Be actively involved in your child’s education. In fact, the methodology used by the educators can be easily replicated at home in various ways. It is like fighting a losing battle unless parents and educators do not partner in ensuring the child’s holistic development.
  • Be creative- Learning just doesn’t take place through table top activities only. Allow your child to enjoy the myriad hues of childhood, introduce stress buster and fun time activities into your daily schedule.
  • Breathing exercises, listening to chants and music, and meditation are very beneficial for the caregiver and the child. I have, almost without fail, observed children with autism immediately calm down after an episode of high anxiety and stress on listening to chants and soft music.
  • Please do not keep your child secluded. Company of grandparents, trusted neighbors, family and friends brings a wealth of wisdom, love and laughter into a child’s life and add to a child’s repertoire of experiences where teaching becomes incidental and stress free. They also provide the primary caregivers with a much needed break.

And most importantly, never give up. With your positive attitude, perseverance and love, you might just see your young chrysalis turn into a vibrant, colorful butterfly!

There is wonder in everything,

A blissful sound in silence,

And, only in darkness,

We see the stars shine…

Gurman Sandhu



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