Every child you’ve ever met has their own unique set of needs; why treat children with mental or cognitive disabilities any differently than you do any other child?
When interacting with such a child, we really recommend one core idea: treat them as you would any other child. You hated being singled out for being different as a child (many of us as adults still find ourselves tortured by how the rest of society views us), why perpetrate that view onto the next generation?
So how can you provide the best care for a child with mental or cognitive disabilities? Easy. Follow some of these helpful tips and trust your instincts.
Figure out their needs
There are some basics: food, water, shelter… beyond that, every child is different. Observe, let them try new and old activities. Only give them help if the situation becomes dangerous for them or if they ask for your help.
No matter what the child is doing, you need to encourage their good habits. Let’s be honest, we all remember to reprimand; to tell the child no when they pick up the expensive vase in the living room and so on, but we rarely remember to praise them, especially once they are out of their toddler years. Remember to encourage and you’ll have a happier child.
Go at their Pace
Just because your favourite children’s book says they should be able to ________ by the age of ________, don’t put extra pressure on your child. Understand that development is different for everyone and that we all progress at our own place. Better yet, if you discover that your child is say fantastic at math, but a terrible English student praise them for their success. It’s okay to encourage them to work on the skills they lack, but understand they may never be the scholar you were and that if you are going to help them learn, be sure to make it fun.