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2000 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 2, No. 3
June 1997

Steps You Can Take: Assisting Families with Special Needs Children

  • Learn about the resources for families of children with disabilities available in your community and at the state level. The CARELINE (800/662-7030) is a good place to start.

  • Help the parents work through the grief reactions that occur when the diagnosis is first made. This may help prevent maltreatment of the child.

  • Educate yourself. Understanding the symptoms and long-term prognosis is crucial to your ability to serve this child and his or her family.

  • Learn about the laws that govern the rights of disabled children, and encourage the family to learn about them.

  • Begin a candid, ongoing conversation with the family regarding their financial situation and stress levels. Explain to them that these discussions will help you assess their need for respite care and other support in caring for this child.

  • Plan for respite care well ahead of time. Regular respite care is critical for families of special needs children.

  • Work with the family to develop a diverse network of support resources to help them manage the demands of caring for the child. This network may include devices (such as a cellular phone or special walkers) as well as people.

  • Help the family keep the child's life as "normal" as possible. Encourage the child to participate in sports and clubs, if that is at all possible.

1997 Jordan Institute for Families