Early intervention, therapy and stimulation may consume your life after your child is born with special needs or has been diagnosed with any type of disability. You’ll hear time and time again that the first three years of a child’s life are the most important for development, and at the same time, how crucial it is to take advantage of these years to provide the child with all the possible opportunities for stimulation and progress.
Under such pressure, it’s easy to find obsessive and desperate parents trying to squeeze more therapies, activities and interaction into each day. And these parents may bear the brunt of negative comments from family members or friends, who may see them as not being accepting of their own child.
It’s hard to understand how we may lose objectivity—all of us parents of kids with special needs have felt lost in that game at least once. And it’s not because we’re rejecting our children; it’s because we feel that we must do everything in our power to help them thrive.
DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE GOAL Kids don’t have a clue about the benefits of early intervention, therapies or stimulation. So be aware that they may feel pressured and upset if constantly surrounded by people they don’t know, trying to make them talk, walk, or exercise dexterity and coordination without their consent.
No matter what the diagnosis of the child, he is a child first and his priority is to be loved, accepted and cuddled. Over-scheduling and overstimulating with activities that may or may not help your child progress in the long run does more harm than good, especially when he’s missing out on the love and affection he truly needs to thrive, regardless of his or her ability or disability.
FIND THE BALANCE I’ve learned these rules through trial and error with my own kids, in conversations with other parents of children special needs and from observing other kids—both happy and unhappy ones—undergoing therapies of some sort.