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Supporting your child with a developmental disability

Of course, from the time a child is born, his or her parents want to provide love, resources and support to help their son or daughter thrive in life. We recently talked in this space about the use of virtual reality to enrich, teach and calm people with autism and other intellectual disabilities.

Today, we look at other ways to support kids (and adults) with developmental disabilities, who are uniquely at risk of bullying and rejection, relationship challenges and emotional problems like low self-esteem, according to an article in U.S. News & World Report. The author, a psychologist who has worked with children and families impacted by disability, reasons that life’s challenges are likely to increase with more severe intellectual disabilities.

While true, even a milder disability can contribute to serious social problems.

Suggestions given for parents to assist children challenged by disability include:

  • Consult a mental health professional like a psychologist or behavioral specialist. This professional can both coach parents and provide support directly to a child.
  • Help the child understand the disability and its symptoms as much as possible and appropriate.
  • Explain what bullying is so that the child is more likely to recognize unfriendly behavior, since social cues can be challenging, especially for someone with an autism diagnosis. Regularly ask probing questions about interaction with other kids to keep tabs on bullying or talk to teachers about their observations. Discuss with the child how to respond.
  • Emphasize the child’s strong points and character traits to reinforce feelings of positive self-esteem.
  • Be sure the child has all the supports at school required by state and federal law such as a comprehensive individualized education program or IEP. Teach the child how to ask adults at school for help.

At our law firm, we represent many parents of children with disabilities, providing legal advice and guidance on financial and estate planning issues unique to these families.


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