Developmental Disabilities Awareness

Parenting Children with Special Needs and Health Challenges: Developmental Disabilities Awareness

Disability awareness brings to light some surprising statistics. Did you know that people with developmental disabilities are more likely to develop a mental health disorder than their peers?

Being a parent is already a difficult job. Parenting children who have special needs and health challenges, though, can be incredibly stressful.

Kids’ Minds Matter offers many parent and training classes, including a course “Parenting Children with Special Needs and Health Challenges.” The class helps parents focus on their strengths. Other skills include setting appropriate expectations for their children, and specialized and effective discipline strategies.

Parenting a child with special needs, including a physical disability, learning delay, emotional challenge or developmental disorder, requires specific skills. These can include caregiving or advocacy and demand a commitment of time and energy.

How are Special Needs and Health Challenges Classes Beneficial for Parents?

The “Parenting Children with Special Needs and Health Challenges” is one of a series of free educational opportunities for parents and caregivers in the community. It helps parents and their children with chronic or life-threatening medical conditions, developmental delays, life-altering disorders and disabilities.

Some of the skills learned in the class include:

  • Accepting and understanding specific disabling conditions
  • Alternative discipline techniques and strategies
  • Learning positive ways to deal with stress, anger and behavior.

Through the evidence-based curriculum by Nurturing Parenting Program, parents and families can learn to have fun together and gain a sense of power. They can also develop a community of other families facing similar challenges.

The eight-week class is offered virtually in English and Spanish. It is also offered to incarcerated mothers in the Lee County Jail. One participant wrote, “I would like to say thank you so much for everything you have done for the past 8 weeks. You just don’t understand how much knowledge I have gained and how good I feel about being a parent!”

Read More: A Story of a Mother’s Determination

Developmental Disabilities Awareness: Can Parenting Classes Help a Child’s Mental Health?

Knowing how to address the behaviors caused by mental illness is not easy or natural. As a result, parenting classes can teach parents and caregivers how to respond effectively.

Sessions can equip participants to deal with a child’s illness and thoughts, emotions and behaviors that accompany them. The important lesson is learning skills to handle situations in positive ways for the whole family.

Each child, parent or caregiver and family is unique. As a result, classes help develop individual abilities to create peace at home through balance and self-care.

“There are parents who have children who have very specific medical issues that are very complex and very rare and they were able to connect with other parents who may not be going through the same medical issue with their child, but the stress is still there and the family life strains are still there, and they are able to connect on those things and develop friendships with each other.” Jessica Garcia participated in the program and is mother to four children, three of them with special needs ranging from ADHD, aggression, intellectual disability, seizures, autism, hallucinations, bipolar and reactive attachment disorder.

Additional Information about Kids’ Minds Matter

Through the generosity of donors and partners, Kids’ Minds Matter provides free resources and classes for caregivers and parents.

In 2023, 1,207 people attended Kids’ Minds Matter parenting classes, Mental Health First Aid training, youth initiative meetings and community presentations.

“Kids’ Minds Matter provides resources for families like mine who previously didn’t have access to knowledge and education and different techniques that are helpful in raising their children who have special needs and developmental delays,” Garcia said.