The diagnosis is a reality: your child has special needs. Receiving the news of a child’s disability is one of the hardest times in the lives of a family or a couple. Nobody expects or wishes to have a child with a disability, but it happens more frequently than we think.

The CDC states than one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect that may develop into a mental or physical disability.

Depending on the disability, the child’s condition is often not preventable or reversible, so it is crucial for families to accept it and work towards the child’s future as an individual with different abilities.

These are some simple steps that can help families find a way to celebrate their child’s life and give him all that he needs to succeed.

  • Contact the Child Find Service of your state to refer your child for a developmental evaluation that may qualify him for free early intervention services. Early intervention will guide you through the process of learning more about your child’s special needs, how to empower his abilities, and will also help you get ready for preschool services for children with special needs.
  • Look for a support group in your area. Sometimes families are scared to contact other families of children with special needs, as they feel they don’t belong to that group. It takes time to feel comfortable while observing older kids with the same disability as your child, but the interaction with other parents will provide you with the information and support you need to keep going, understand the system and anticipate the future.
  • Don’t shelter him. Don’t let his disability limit your child’s right to live the most typical life possible. Depending on his medical needs, try to integrate him into regular activities like visiting the library, participating in community playgroups and being an active part of a church or neighborhood group.

Read Related: 10 Secrets of Happy Moms

  • Educate yourself. The more you learn and understand about your child’s disability, the more you’ll be able to help him succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your doctor. If you want to research on your own, remember that the information posted online or in books isn’t talking about your child, it’s talking about the disability your child happens to have.
  • Don’t give up on your dreams—find a way to pursue them for your personal satisfaction and empowerment.
  • Stop asking: Why me? Work towards finding the answer for the question: What is the potential hiding behind this challenge? Happy people don’t have fewer problems; they learn how to turn their problems into opportunities for giving, growing up and for finding new ways of living and loving.
  • Be patient with yourself. Don’t feel guilty for your sadness or disappointment. Understanding that those feelings are part of the process of acceptance will help you to overcome any depression you may experience and be strong enough to keep going.
  • Count on others, accept help and don’t expect people to believe that you’re perfect. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Smart people learn how to get the best of every experience and turn it onto a learning opportunity.