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Parties, weddings, religious events and family functions can create anxiety for the parents who have special children. Planning for these events in advance can reduce a lot of stress. Parents also need to manage other people’s response and judgement when out in public.
No child is born with an innate skill of understanding social skills or to interact with others. This is a skill that everyone acquires as they grow. For children with special needs, this needs a little more help from parents and a little extra time. Making friends is just as important for a special child as it is for any other.
Understanding Children with Special Needs
Children with special needs include children with conditions that have a wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of impairment. Some of the disorders in this spectrum include classic autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Some symptoms of ADHD also fall under this spectrum. The symptoms of these disorders vary from child to child, but most of them face difficulties with social and communication skills. In order to help children with special needs learn social skills and apply them to situations everyone encounters on a day-to-day basis, parents need to use different types of therapy options to help them.
Helping Your Special Child Socialise
Socialisation with other children and adults, both with and without disabilities, can help children with special needs implement skills they have learnt in therapy and apply to everyday social situations.
Here are some suggestions that may help you and your child with socialising:
- Meet your neighbours regularly. Attend open houses and parent meetings.
- Invite children and their families to your home. Organise play dates at home, so they meet other children in familiar surroundings.
- Talk to your child about what it means to be a friend, encourage him to introduce himself, smile, shake hands.
- Work with your child’s teachers to help your child develop friendships in school. Participate in community recreation programs.
- Look for programmes in and around your city which allow your child to connect with others with a similar disability. Be a part of online communities of parents with similar needs where you can share experiences, ideas and support each other. Online communities also provide opportunities for play dates for your child.
These early interactions can lay the foundation for interactions in the future for your special child, which will most likely take place with unfamiliar faces and places. Increasing a special child’s social interaction helps him in maintaining his mental health as well as keeps the family’s life well-balanced.