Nurturing children who have special needs
By Pulkit Sharma
Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting times of one’s life and nothing remains the same after the little one arrives. Brimming with unselfish love and a sense of deep responsibility, parents leave no stone unturned in doing their best for their bundle of joy. The hope of a bright future keeps their spirits buoyant – life revolves around the child slowly growing up, physically and mentally and becoming a valuable partner in their journey of life. No wonder, parents go through all strain, stress and sleepless nights wearing a big smile on their faces.
But what happens when some parents discover that their child is suffering from a severe neurological, psychological or developmental disability and that the child’s growth and development will take a different trajectory? No one is prepared for this devastating news. Parents are often overcome by helplessness, fear, guilt and disappointment knowing that their child will continue to have special needs, will always need their support and may never fit into the so-called mainstream. Although the journey is troubled, life holds many facets in store, beyond our imagination, and growth and evolution can happen in extraordinary ways.
A recent study from the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention concludes that higher spiritual well-being lowers parenting stress in those caring for children with neuro-developmental disorders. That is, faith in a greater power or trust in life itself can help parents in overcoming the effects of stress and finding meaning and joy in life.
The mother of a child with special needs once told me that through her deep faith in the Divine, she slowly understood that her son’s disability was a trial as well as an opportunity for her to evolve. The Divine had given her this challenge knowing that she had a reservoir of inner strength to handle it and that she could grow from the experience. As her surrender deepened, she felt reassured that come what may, she will be held, sustained and nurtured by the waft of a celestial presence. Succoured generously by this powerful emotional experience, she felt revitalised and bounced back, nurturing her son with new hope, vigour and positivity.
Likewise, there are parents of children with special needs who find that the task of supporting their children eventually becomes a source of great joy for them. As they get completely engrossed in attending to their children, they forget their own conflicts and tensions, past emotional baggage, unfulfilled wishes and empty desires. With time, their inner critic is silenced, and a deep wisdom prevails, changing the way they look at themselves and the world. During such moments, some of these parents also discover that despite all limitations, their child is exceptionally gifted or talented in some unique way. This joyful discovery encourages them to be more supportive of their children and eventually, these children do make progress.
When children with special needs feel that people around them have not given up on them and that they continue to have faith in them, they feel empowered to shine in splendid ways. Therefore, let us see the hidden light in every special child, assuring him that he is truly special and that we unwaveringly believe in him and that we love him unconditionally.
(The writer is a clinical psychologist in Puducherry)
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.