Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Fostering Independence

05/04/2016 | Published by: Kelli Zermeno

Independence? “Ha!” you say.

So your child has a disability. Yes, this usually means they have unique needs. But there is a life lesson that all children, even those with disabilities, must learn:  independence.

Let’s get creative.

A young man I know has autism. Let’s call him Sam. Sam is 14 and still needs help going to the bathroom and other personal tasks. But Sam’s mother is determined to teach him how to do a few things for himself. It takes time. Sam may not get it right away, especially because he’s used to having most things done for him. But the payoff is huge for both Sam and those who love him.

Instead of refilling Sam’s cup, his mother has been working on teaching him how to pour his own juice. I know, I know – big deal, juice. But for Sam’s mother – a single mom of 4 boys (2 with disabilities) – every little victory is huge.

Even if your child is nonverbal or has mobility issues, there are still choices they can make. “Do you want to wear this or that?” or “The blue cup or the red?” Giving your child the option to make their own decisions can empower them to feel more confident and have the courage to try other things on their own.

An assistance animal for your child can be a powerful tool for gaining independence. Animals help with certain tasks and offer both companionship and opportunities for your child to go out on their own.

Everybody values the right and ability to make their own decisions. In a world where many kids feel helpless, the smallest changes can make a big difference in self-confidence and sense of self-worth. Remember, your child will one day become an adult with rights, needs, and wants. Being as independent as possible will serve them well as they navigate the world.

And because you won’t always be available, it’s especially important to ensure your child can take care of themselves and that they are aware of their rights and medical needs.

For more ideas, take a look at Encouraging Independence is Critical for Kids with Special Needs and Ask the Experts-Fostering Independence for a Child with Special Needs for more information on fostering independence. 

And be sure to take a look at Personal Stories about People with Disabilities on this website for even more ideas.


Read More Posts from Family Support

Ideas to Foster Creativity in a Child Who Uses a Wheelchair

How about some ideas for creative activities for children who use wheelchairs? Here are some fun, creative, and easy table-top projects for your child to express themselves.

It’s Their Thing, Actually

When I am tempted to have a pity party because of life’s struggles, I remember the struggles really are my children’s to bear and my job, what I am here to do, is support them. Here are my thoughts about that…

How Does Your Child Who is Nonverbal Communicate?

It is important for parents to share information about how their child communicates when the child is nonverbal. They need to share how to interpret their child's wants and needs with other caregivers. Here are some ideas to help you share your knowledge and help others provide better care for your child.