Learn the depression in parents with children with special needs… and how to help them
Recently I came across a Facebook post on my feed and I shared it to my Life Skills 4 Kids Facebook page and I was just blown away by the impact. This post was entitled “Special Needs Parent Depression”.
Within two hours, it had been shared 99 times, which is just incredible. You can take a look and people were reaching out for help. People were really identifying with this. It got me thinking about what the reasons were of why parents of special needs kids are really struggling. You know, all parents are busy, are juggling way too many balls, and are far too busy.
But for special needs kids, they really need to have time out for self care, but they don't get that. Apart from the day to day juggles of getting the kids out the door to school, shopping, work, all those other things, they also have the extra appointments. The OT, speech, psychology, behaviour support plans, [inaudible] plan meetings, and all the paperwork. Managing that is way up there as well.
I really take my hat off to parents who have to cope with this extra stress as well. You guys are just amazing. It just got me also thinking about, as professionals, we see parents and kids most days. You know, at least a couple of them everyday are struggling with their mental health, with their tiredness. Often these kids, they really struggle to sleep, which means that the parents and the whole family doesn't get enough sleep, which impacts on not being able to cope and the feeling of resiliency. It can be a never ending cycle and it can just really get you down.
Sometimes parents may come across as setting really clear boundaries with us as professionals. Parents may seem a little prickly or defensive. But this is just their way of coping. I've always thought, when dealing with friends or family or other professionals or parents, and for us as well, that if something is happening in our lives, we can't be there and react as we would always want to.
Again, my thoughts for today are, if you are struggling with a parent that you're working with, try not to get involved personally. Step back. You maybe consider what else is happening for them at the moment. You really try and reach out to support them in whatever capacity you have, whether that's professionally or as a friend.
So, I'll post the link to that Facebook post so you can take a look. I hope that this is helpful in just helping you to reflect and to perhaps refocus on being compassionate towards our parents who carry such a heavy load. If you have any questions about this, just shoot me an email or post below. Thanks, bye.
Written by Deb Hopper, Occupational Therapist