As your child ages, you might discover that they have additional needs beyond your ordinary parental responsibilities, and that might make you feel overwhelmed. The good news is that you’re not alone. There are many parents out there who have older children with additional needs. Here are some steps to help your family handle the situation.

How is it to be Parenting an Older Child with Additional Needs?

Raising a child with special needs is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Parenting an older child with special needs is even harder. It’s confusing, unpredictable, and, at times, heartbreaking. And yet, parents of older kids with communication or learning difficulties, who may be on the autism spectrum, often have to deal with an additional layer of stigma and misconceptions.

  • Parenting a child with additional needs is a full-time job. You already have your hands full with the day-to-day tasks of looking after your child, but now your child is getting older. Issues of their own are cropping up: teens and young adults with additional needs can have significant challenges with managing their physical and mental health, with a low sense of well-being and high-stress levels. As their parents, you must take care of your own needs. This could mean encouraging a child with additional needs to get involved in a hobby, finding a local support group, or simply having some time for yourself each day.
  • Parenting an older child with additional needs can be a struggle at the best of times. When you add disability to the mix, it can be even more challenging. But you’re not alone. There are plenty of parents going through the same things you are.
  • Parenting an older child with additional needs is tougher than parenting a younger child. You have to navigate around a wider range of medical issues, from learning disabilities to behavioral disorders, and you have to keep on top of a child’s evolving needs, as they’re no longer as reliant on you as toddlers. Furthermore, there’s no guidebook on how to parent an older child with additional needs since each child is different. 
  • Parenting an older child with additional needs can be challenging yet rewarding. But though you are parents to a child with additional needs, it is important not to view them in a different light but, instead, to recognize their individuality and foster that individuality. This is no easy task, however, as parenting is naturally a competitive sport. However, given the focus of parenting an older child with additional needs, perhaps the competition element should be secondary to encouraging their fullest potential.

If you have an older child with additional needs, you know how overwhelming it can be to find programs and resources specifically tailored and helpful to your family and your child. Although you are probably used to navigating a special needs system for your child, finding services and agencies that can also help your older child can be next to impossible. It can be especially frustrating when your child loses interest in their extracurricular activities as they age. However, this does not mean there are no programs and resources available. 

When a child is born with additional needs, parents often find themselves struggling to adjust to the constant challenges. However, when they reach the ’tween years, parents are often faced with additional troubles, as they discover that parenting an older child with additional needs is an entirely different feat.

As a parent of a child with additional needs, you most likely remember the initial diagnosis feeling emotionally overwhelmed and unsure about the future. Having a diagnosis can be both frightening and reassuring. You may feel a sense of relief that there is an explanation for your child’s behaviors, or you may feel angry that your child is being labeled with a disability. You may also experience grief about your hopes and dreams for your child and his or her future. The process of searching for treatment can feel overwhelming, but there are resources to help you.

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