You might have a child that has multiple diagnoses. One diagnosis and disability can be overwhelming but when you add in more than one, it can be devastating. What can a parent do to help process the feelings that go along with raising a child with complex needs? How can a diagnosis be more than just a label?
Always remember that your child is a person first. A diagnosis or disability label will never define your child. Diagnoses are not there to be labels for negative reasons. They are simply there to help guide you and others to better understand your child.
A diagnosis also helps to prepare you. You will learn what to expect down the road. It helps you make informed decisions and set goals for your child until your child can make their own goals. You want the best services that will help your child succeed and reach their fullest potential. Knowing the diagnosis gives you the knowledge to advocate for your child.
Also remember that disability does not mean that your child cannot learn. Your child can learn right alongside children who don’t have disabilities. Look up and learn all you can about IDEA. Or if you are new to Special Education, go to Special Education 101 on this website.
Keep in mind that every child learns differently. Your child can and will learn. It is your job as your child’s advocate to educate the school and teachers on what supports your child needs so they can succeed. Having a written diagnosis from a doctor will help in this process.
Diagnoses are just names to help explain your child. They are only intended to be there to help your child and family. Don’t resist having a diagnosis or disability label for your child.
Use the diagnosis to your advantage. Use it when you're looking for information about your child or how your child learns. Use it to help the school and teacher provide a better educational experience for your child. Your child will be the same person before and after the diagnosis.
You know who your child is and can be – always keep that in the forefront of anything anyone says about them. Remember that you know your child better than anyone else. You are the expert on your child. A diagnosis or label doesn’t change that.
We have all found ourselves, at one point or another, comparing our child or our situation to another. The grass is always greener and you want what you can’t have—all phrases we have heard. Sometimes we must remind ourselves that we are all doing the best we can and we need to support one another and focus on the similarities, not the differences.
With every passing year in the world of being a parent of a child with special health care needs, you have the day to day struggles, the fun holidays, and some surprises. Good and bad.