Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Parenting: From the Perspective of a Child with a Disability

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Parenting: From the Perspective of a Child with a Disability

Article excerpt

When God decided I was going to have a disability, at least He made sure that I was born into the right family. As luck would have it, when I was born with cerebral palsy, I had the good fortune to be born into large, loud, Irish-Catholic family in which I was the sixth out of seven children. So when I came along, my mom and dad were kind of "old hats" at raising children, which was extremely important because when I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy my parents, although concerned, did not skip a beat. My father, a doctor and my mother, a nurse knew that there would be significantly different challenges raising me, then my siblings. Yet, they were not going to change their parenting style just because I had a disability. So basically I was "mainstreamed" right there in my own family before I could even walk or talk. And they made sure that my siblings understood the rules of the road, so to speak.

Yes, finding out that your child has a disability can be devastating, but from the moment parents find out the diagnosis, how they react to their child will have a powerful and long lasting impact. Many parents say that when they are told that their child has some condition, it is almost as shocking as hearing the child had died. Some parents go into a state of grieving because their perception of that child's life is changed dramatically. Their hopes and dreams for their baby being successful in the way that they envisioned success to be often disappears. Sometimes, all they see is a life filled with heartache and despair, and that can prove to be an overwhelming burden. If the child senses this grief and despair from their parents as it relates to their disability, it will impact how the child learns to cope. But, more important, the child will tend to dwell on all the things he or she cannot do rather than focus on all the things he or she can do. That is a major difference in focus, and a major contributor to how he or she will live life.

I am sure that when I first was diagnosed, my parents were caught off guard and were not sure what the future would bring for me. and for them. But they took great pains to insure that their concern over my disability was mostly kept to themselves. I never sensed from them or from my siblings that their expectations for me diminished when they found out I had disability. Nor did I feel that my parents had one set of expectations for my brother and sisters, and a different set for me. The mantra that I always heard from my mother was, "You can be anything you want be if you put your mind to it." All of her children had their own limitations and abilities, and all were different with different goals and aspirations.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Throughout their lives, people with disabilities are going to face discrimination, low expectations, pity, overprotection, and isolation on a regular basis when interfacing with society. These are not what a person with a disability should experience in their own family. If parents or family members have low expectations, or are overly protective, then the child is going to assume he or she has limitations before the start of preschool. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.