Parenthood is a challenge, and caring for toddlers with special needs can be more bumpy. Here is a practical guide on how to help make your parenting journey smoother.
Parents to toddlers with special needs undergo bigger challenges during their parenting journey. These toddlers will require more attention and care, and this often surmounts to an upheaval of emotions for the parents.
What does “special needs” mean?
It is refers to children or students who are diagnosed with a physical disability including medical conditions, intellectual challenges or emotion issues such as deafness, blindness, dyslexia, learning difficulties and behavioural issues. In particular, it points to the educational requirements of these people.
They are also referred to as “persons with disabilities.” The Disabled People’s Association of Singapore notes that persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments. There’s also presence of barriers during interaction which may come in the way of full and effective participation in a social setting.
In 2011, there are approximately 7,000 preschoolers (aged zero to six) diagnosed with developmental delay or disability in Singapore.
Approximately 5-6% of children born here are diagnosed with some form of development issue. The top two most commonly diagnosed among toddlers and preschoolers are: 1) speech and language delays and disorders and 2) autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
How different are special needs toddlers compared to the rest?
According to Jayne Nadarajoo, Founding Director of White Lodge Kindergartens and Melbourne Specialist International School, children with a diagnosis have specific developmental delays and challenges.
As such, their growth and development may not be progressing as well or be in line with their birth age. They require additional help and support in achieving their developmental milestones.
Depending on the diagnosis of the toddler, a special needs child requires a different set of care on a daily basis. Undoubtedly, it will be challenging for parents and caregivers, too.
Due to the special needs toddler’s development, their physical, mental, emotional levels differ from that of a similar aged peer. Toddlers with special needs are at a different pace when it comes to motor skills development, too, so daily activities such as self-feeding may be difficult for them.
Likewise, parents need to understand their child’s condition and seek assistance from medical experts, family, or speak to friends in a similar situation. Stress will build up and may inevitably cause relationship issues with your partner, family and others in your social circle, but these can be managed with the right parenting mindset.
Read on for helpful tips to parents of toddlers with special needs!