Gaining Insight Into Your Child’s Condition
Accepting your child’s disability can bring a mix of emotions, but understanding it is one of the best things you can do to advocate for their health care needs.
By seeking information specifically related to your child’s birth injury or disability, you can be better prepared to make informed decisions regarding their care, ensuring they receive the most appropriate interventions and support.
Creating a Plan for Your Child
Raising a child with special needs can be emotionally challenging for families. Knowing where to turn for support and guidance is essential. The best way to do this is to create a customized care plan for your child.
Here are some steps you can take to get started.
1. Get a Diagnosis
The first thing you should do for your child is ensure they have an accurate diagnosis. You can ask your child’s doctor what diagnostic testing is available as part of their medical treatment.
With a specific diagnosis, you can better understand what happened to your child and how it will affect them throughout their lifetime.
2. Develop a Treatment Plan
Once you are aware of and familiar with your child’s condition, you can work with their health care providers to create a customized treatment plan.
Some conditions are highly treatable, and mild conditions may even heal on their own. However, more severe injuries could affect a child for the rest of their life and require daily care or assistance.
3. Assemble a Care Team
Work with a team of medical professionals, therapists, and educators experienced in your child’s specific condition.
Depending on their condition, your child’s care team could include:
- Neurologist: Specializes in the brain and nervous system, addressing conditions such as cerebral palsy and seizure disorders.
- Orthopedic surgeon: Focuses on musculoskeletal issues, including fractures, deformities, and mobility problems, that might require surgical intervention.
- Physical therapist: Works on improving mobility, strength, and balance through exercises and other interventions.
- Occupational therapist: Helps in developing fine motor skills and improving the ability to perform daily activities like eating, dressing, and writing.
- Speech-language pathologist: Addresses communication and swallowing difficulties, helping children develop better speech and language skills.
- Special education teacher: Designs and implements educational programs tailored to the child’s unique learning needs and developmental levels.
- Dietitian: Offers nutritional guidance and creates diet plans to address specific health needs and ensure proper growth and development.
- Social worker: Helps families navigate and access services, resources, and support and assists in dealing with the psychosocial aspects of disability.
- Recreational therapist: Uses recreational activities to improve well-being and enhance socialization, cognitive function, and physical ability.
- Audiologist: Specializes in identifying and managing hearing impairments, ensuring optimal development of speech and communication skills.
- Vision specialist/optometrist: Monitors and addresses vision-related issues, which is essential for overall development and learning.
- Home care nurse: Provides specialized care at home, assisting with medical needs and monitoring the child’s health.
Regularly communicate with your child’s care team to ensure coordinated and appropriate care.