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Family Dynamics and a Disabled Child

Posted Aug 19 2009 10:33pm 1 Comment


All parents dream of raising the perfect child. When their baby is born, they count the fingers and toes and wait anxiously to see if there are any serious problems. When the doctor pronounces the child normal, they relax and begin to enjoy parenthood. On the other end of the scale, many parents are presented with a child that has obvious disabilities and medical issues. Understanding how this diagnosis affects a family can enable friends and extended family to support them in the best way possible.

Many Children are Born Disabled

Baby11 I did some research and came up with the following figures for some of the more common causes of disability at birth. In the United States, approximately 5000 babies a year are born with Down Syndrome. Another 10,000 are born with cerebral palsy and 1500 with Spina Bifida. That's 16,500 families that are affected and of course there are thousands more born with other disabling conditions.

Accidents and Disease also Cause Disability

Some children are born normal and later become disabled due to accidents or disease. Head traumas are a common cause of disability and are often caused by falling off a horse or bicycle or as the result of a motor vehicle accident. Near drownings can also cause brain damage resulting in physical and mental problems. In some ways, it is harder to have a normal child who becomes disabled later in life.

Initial Reactions

Whether the condition is detected before or after birth, the reaction is normally a mixture of shock, disbelief, pain and self incrimination. Parents question their life style and health and many questions are asked. "What can I expect? How badly affected will the child be? Will he be able to go to school? Will I be able to love her? What will his life span be? What will her quality of life be like? Will he require medication? What could I have done to prevent this?" These questions are normal and need to be explored. The answers will be formative in learning to live with a disabled child.

How can Friends and Extended Family Help

If you know people who have a disabled child, don't be afraid to get involved. Genuine concern and friendship are the best thing you can offer. Ask questions and learn how to care for the child. Parents are often exhausted by the constant care routines but reluctant to leave the child with people who don't understand his needs. Spend time with them and offer to assist them with his daily care from time to time. Once they see you handling him competently, in a loving manner, they will feel more freedom to go out for a day without worrying.

Mothers Bear the Burden

In most situations, the mother is the main caregiver. She often has to give up her job and may find herself trapped at home, her life centered around the disabled child. This can result in her feeling resentful, angry and guilty, or she may pour her whole life into the child, so neglecting others around her. Understandably, both of these reactions are unhealthy. There are support groups and associations that organize meetings and outings for parents and disabled children and these can be a source of great encouragement and hope.

BearFathers try to Fix Things

Men are natural fixers. They try and repair things and a disabled child can leave them feeling helpless and frustrated. The best thing they can do is work on helping the child reach his full potential. This may be in the form of building special play equipment or adapting the house to accommodate wheelchairs etc. It is also important that they connect with the child and spend time with him.

Siblings of Disabled Children

I recently read a Jodi Picoult novel entitled Handle with Care. This tells the story of a child called Willow, born with osteogenesis imperfecta – brittle bone disease. Her elder sister, Amelia, has an on-off, love-hate relationship with her. The parents' attention is focused on Willow and Amelia eventually develops bulimia and starts cutting herself. That is an extreme example but siblings of disabled children often feel neglected. The disabled child is the center of much attention and vast chunks of time are swallowed up by daily care, doctor's visits and various types of therapy.

The Disabled Child

If the disability is purely physical, the child will eventually become aware of the extra care he needs. This can be a healthy thing, resulting in him wanting to become as independent as possible. On the other hand, he may have been spoiled and will continue to demand excessive amounts of attention. Family life is always a melting pot of personality, age, gender and preferences. A disabled child, like any other, will have to learn to fit into their family.

Dealing with Guilt

All parties are subject to feelings of guilt. Guilt that they brought a disabled child into the world, guilt that they don't love a brother wholeheartedly, guilt for being a burden on their families. God's amazing grace can cover over all these feelings and problems. Families that work together and acknowledge God often end up being an inspiration to other families with disabled children.

Families with a disabled child need love and support from those around them. Being willing to learn and understand can mean the world to them.


Comments (1)
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Disable child should give proper attention specially in riding in vehicle, that's why we need to give also proper attention to our car parts and accessories before our journy, we need to check the engine, tire and automotive lights that's running in good condition.
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