Around one in six children between the ages of 3 and 17 in the United States are estimated to be diagnosed with one or more developmental disabilities, the CDC reveals. An additional 35% also have a physical disability of some kind. Many children with disabilities end up living independently as adults, and you can help this process as a parent by teaching your child to be independent and confident from a young age.
Teach key life skills
It’s never too late to teach your child key life skills, but the earlier you start, the earlier you’ll set them up to live a successful, independent adult life. For instance, give your child age-appropriate chores and responsibilities like cleaning the bathroom or putting away their toys. Also, encourage them to get out of their comfort zone regularly; bring them with you on grocery trips or join a children’s book club.
By providing your child with the best support available, you can give them the strong foundation they need to thrive. For example, if your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the most common childhood motor disability, a dedicated cerebral palsy resource guide can help you access holistic support tailored to your child’s unique needs. A resource directory can provide details on your nearest doctors, hospitals, and therapy, for instance. Children with cerebral palsy, or any disability, will likely benefit from play therapy, in particular, (71% of children who attend play therapy experience positive improvement). Play therapy can help children develop confidence, process their emotions, and strengthen their social skills.
Let your child navigate challenges on their own
It’s natural for parents to want to immediately intervene and rescue their child from scary or stressful situations. However, as long as they’re not facing danger, giving your child the opportunity to take initiative and navigate challenges on their own can pay off immensely. While you may at first find it difficult to step back and watch your child work through tough situations on their own, it can be rewarding for both of you. For example, let your child make their own lunch, dial the number to call a friend or relative, or ask a stranger for directions.
Raising a child with a disability to be independent is a challenging yet rewarding journey. By teaching your child key life skills, getting support, and letting your child navigate challenges, you’ll effectively foster independence and set your child up for a fulfilling, self-sufficient life.
Blessing Iyamadiken is a media and marketing specialist with 4 years experience in the industry of digital marketing, publishing and advertising. She is also a feminist and very passionate about Gender Equality. In her spare time, she loves to read or binge on Netflix.