Divorce is a very difficult time for all members of a family, but it may be more so for a child with special needs. In order for children with disorders or disabilities to feel safe and cared-for, they must always be in a loving, caring environment. Whereas other children may find it easier to understand why their parents don’t get along, special needs children will need extra care during this time of conflict. For this reason, divorcing parents should constantly be aware of their behavior around their special needs child. Although this will require a lot of effort from the divorcing parents, it is what it best for their child. Here are five things you should/should not do.
- Do not fight in front of your child: as with all children, special needs children will feel helpless and frightened when their parents argue in front of them. The stress of the argument could negatively impact your child’s emotional and physical health causing nervousness and even gastrointestinal problems.
- Do not become so wrapped up in the divorce, you forget to give your child the attention and care they require: this applies to all divorcing parents, but the role of a parent with a special needs child is especially important as the child often needs their parents to keep up with medications, therapies and doctor appointments on a regular basis.
- Do continue to work together on your child’s plan of care: too often, one of the divorcing parents becomes the bearer of all care after the divorce, creating a lot of stress for that parent. It is wise to create a plan of care for each parent before the separation, so that each parent understands their role in the child’s life.
- Do determine who your child will live with. For some special needs children (especially those with developmental disorders), it can be difficult for them to transition from one parent’s home for a few nights to another parent’s home for a few nights. Special needs children find comfort in familiar environments. Moving them from home to home may create a feeling of instability and confusion.
- Don’t let the divorce affect your well-being: special needs children need the help of their parents for a lot longer than other children. For this reason, it is important that you find the time to take care of your health, as well. Divorce can often create a perfect reason to drink excess alcohol, eat excess food and not exercise. However, for the sake of your child’s well-being, you must continue to take care of yourself during this difficult time and throughout the rest of your life.
Bio. Denise Keene has been a Special Ed teacher for 15 years now and likes to write articles about various related topics. She also owns the site ‘Masters in Special Education’