Special Needs Child: Environment Considerations
When it comes to moving to a new area, having a special needs child makes the decision a little more difficult as there are more factors to consider in making the choice. Reduce the stress by prepping ahead of time and considering such factors as safety, finding the right doctor for your child, and the importance of a support group.
Is My Home Safe?
Preventing injuries is not much different for children with special needs as compared to children without them, but every child is different, so it is important to tailor your home to their needs. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), parents and caregivers can keep their children safe by making sure they understand and learn the unique concerns for their child, plan ways to protect and share the plan with others, and remember that the needs of the child will change. Talk with your child’s doctor to discuss ways to keep him or her safe.
For example, children who have a limited ability to move, hear, see, or make decisions might not realize that something is unsafe. Take a thorough look at your surroundings and pinpoint anything that could potentially become a hazard such as toys that aren’t age or ability appropriate, or stairs without proper support and railings. It is also important to look at the home itself. According to Home City Real Estate, if your child requires medical equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs, the layout of the home becomes very important. To accommodate for this, make sure at least one entrance has no steps or a low threshold, or look into the possibility of installing a ramp. Consider adding additional handrails throughout the home, and widening doorways. As you look at potential new homes, consider these modifications.
Who Will Be My Child’s Pediatrician?
Depending on how far away you are moving, you may find that you have to find another pediatrician for your child. If this is the case, shop around for a doctor prior to moving to make sure care is available to your child as soon as your car pulls into the driveway. According to Today contributor Dr. Mark Widome, most pediatricians are open to being interviewed by prospective parents, and often welcome “get acquainted” visits to help parents gauge if they are the right doctor for their child. However, with more than 30,000 practicing general practitioners in the U.S., the process of finding a pediatrician is much simpler if you know what you are looking for.
For children with special needs, it is important to find a pediatrician who is both knowledgeable of and comfortable working with children with your child’s particular need. You don’t necessarily need an expert, but you should seek a pediatrician who knows how to use both pediatric subspecialists and community resources. For example, if your child has a learning disability, you should find a pediatrician who will serve as your child’s advocate by willingly communicating with your child’s school and teachers. As you conduct the search for a pediatrician, consider asking your current pediatrician for recommendations or even tips.
Where Can I Find a Support Group?
Moving to a new place means unfamiliar faces, so looking into parent support groups could make the transition for you, your family, and your child a little bit easier. According to the CPIR, one of the most important purposes of a support group is the introduction to families with children with similar needs. In addition, groups serve as a great toolbox of information such as the best local dentist, recommendation for specialists, or where to buy specialized equipment.
The following sites are helpful in finding support groups:
· Each state has a Parent Training and Information (PTI) program or a Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC)
· The Parent to Parent Program matches parents to other parents with a child with the same disability
· The CPIR website is a great resource for information on children with special needs