As the new year begins, it is time for resolutions about making changes to ourselves, families, and home. One way to help your son or daughter with special needs is to work on ways to self-advocate and feel empowered. It is most important for your child to learn to identify:
- What do they need?
- Why do they need it?
- How do they get it?
Engage your child about their thoughts and feelings in response to these questions. It also helps if they are organized and encouraged to research different resources available in their school and community.
Here are a few specific areas that children with special needs will feel empowered and strong about when they are able to advocate for themselves.
- Bullying: It is important for children and teens understand that they did nothing to deserve being bullied. They should speak up for themselves and tell an adult immediately. If they see someone else being bullied, they should know that it is important to help the victim in any possible way.
- Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings: Students should attend the meetings and advocate for their needs as able. It can be very helpful for them to clearly explain to everyone:
- What has or has not worked for them during the past school year?
- What changes would they like in their school routine, etc.?
- What would they like to keep the same in their school routine, etc.?
- What do they think are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What have they been working on at home to help with their challenges?
- What are their accomplishments from the past year that they are most proud of?
As their parent or caregiver, the biggest way that you can help them is to work with them to articulate their ideas and get them organized for the meeting.
- Anger management: Provide your son or daughter with the emotional vocabulary to clearly explain how they are feeling. They should know that there is nothing wrong with being upset, angry, anxious, nervous, or any other emotion. However, it is NOT okay to express these emotions by hurting someone, property, or yourself. Brainstorm new healthy ways for them to cope with and express their feelings through hobbies such as writing, drawing, sports, or music.
Let 2019 be there that you help your son or daughter with special needs learn how to advocate for themselves so they can become amazing and strong young men and women!
Frances Victory, Ph.D., C.P.C., is a Developmental Psychologist, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Speaker, and Certified Life Coach at Victory Coaching LLC. For more information about her services, please check out her website: www.drvictorycoaching.