What Does Independence Mean For Your Special Needs Child?

Girl and Dad Watch FireworksAs you gear up to celebrate The Fourth of July, take a moment to think about the idea of independence.  How far has your special needs child come thus far? How many things can he or she do independently now that seemed out of reach a while ago? No matter how small, be sure to celebrate each speck of progress. And the next. And the next. Eventually those specks can build something amazing. There was a time when everything my daughter touched would be knocked down, dropped or spilled. Today she has a good 95% success rate!

Take a moment to look to the future. What short and long term goals do you hope your child will achieve toward independence? Now may be the time to start planning for the next phase of your child’s life, the next transition. Will your child be able to live on their own? Are there group homes in your area? If they will be at home, what are the ground rules? I dread the day my daughter starts talking about dating…but not as much as her father is dreading it!

Independence can also be interpreted as freedom. What freedom has your child been able to master? It is hard for any parent to release control of their child and watch them become their own person. How much of the leash have you been able to let out? Of course it’s heartbreaking to watch your child fail or fall, but that is part of learning. Let them pick themselves up (figuratively or literally) and encourage them to try again. Sure, it would be easier and faster if I did my daughter’s chores for her, but I hope that some day she will be on her own. She may never want to do any of it, but one day – for whatever reason – I won’t be there to do it for her so she should at least know how to do it.

If you need some tips, check out my article about making fireworks more manageable for special needs kids from last year on my Examiner page.

What will independence mean for your child?

About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner and serves as a contributor on the Yahoo! Contributor Network. She can be reached at rosie327@aol.com.Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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