This is a partnered post.
Every parent is going to need support at some point, and as a friend to a parent, this is something you can offer, whether you have kids of your own or not. If your friend is a special needs parent, they may well require even more support, and again, it makes no difference if you have first-hand experience of special needs children or not; you can still help and be a good friend, offering support when needed. In fact, this support can be one of the most important things a special needs parent can have. Read on to find out more.
Be An Emotional Outlet
No matter how much your friend is sure to love their child with special needs, taking care of their little one, day in, day out, can be exhausting, frustrating, even overwhelming. This is where your support can be invaluable. You can be an outlet for them to vent their feelings, and all you need to do is listen and be there. You don’t have to have specialist knowledge; you don’t have to have experience; you don’t even have to understand, but simply by being there and allowing your friend to let everything out, you can be a huge amount of support.
When parents of special needs children hold in all their emotions and feelings, they might think they’re doing the right thing, but the truth is that they are making everything a lot harder for themselves. It’s never going to be easy, but it can be made less difficult if there is a friend there to support them.
With so much time and effort necessarily focused on the child in question, many special needs parents can neglect themselves, especially when it comes to nutrition. Some will be working extra hours to afford the equipment and medication required, whereas others will be spending all their time with their child, helping them as much as possible. Either way, finding the time to eat right and exercise regularly can be impossible. Or rather, it might feel impossible, but with a good friend to support them, it can be done.
As a friend to a special needs parent, you can help them in many different and practical ways. One way is to ensure they are eating well. Invite them to your home on a regular basis to make sure they have at least one good, home-cooked meal. Or go to their place if it’s easier and cook something for them – you can have a chat at the same time. Perhaps you practice batch cooking, and you can send over meals a few times a week. Anything that will help them be more healthy when it comes to their own food and their own needs will be useful.
Resources & Research
Of course, the best people to discuss treatments and techniques for helping a special needs child is going to be a specialist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help your friend if they need a little more information about something. You could speak to an expert on their behalf, research information online (carefully; online information is notorious for being wrong sometimes), and answer specific questions such as what is ABA?
Whether or not this information helps, having as much research done as possible can be useful, and if you can help in this regard you are saving your friend time and energy that they might not have to spare.