Fathers of Special Needs Children

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Fathers of Special Needs Children

It's a fact: raising a kid that did not turn out to be like all the other kids can truly push you to the limits of your strength. Get connected with other fathers facing the same challenges.

Members: 8
Latest Activity: Jun 17, 2013

Having a child with a chronic condition-whether it's a physical or mental one-puts a lot of stress on the entire family. Fathers and mothers have very different ways of reacting to this stress. Mothers typically worry more about the emotional strain of caring for a child and how the child will do socially. Fathers are concerned with more practical things, such as how to talk about the issue with family and friends, how the child will function in school, whether he'll eventually become self-sufficient. Many dads also experience a heightened sense of responsibility and protectiveness.

Although mothers are generally more involved in day-to-day caring of kids with chronic conditions, fathers are affected just as deeply by the emotional strain and often have an especially hard time coping. Part of the problem is a series of vicious circles:

Some of dads' biggest worries have to do with finances: can they afford to pay for treatments, tutors, and special medical attention, is their insurance coverage adequate, and so on. To combat those worries, dads may spend more time at work. That makes them feel better because they're easing their financial concerns. Plus, for many men, their jobs are a source of satisfaction, a place where they feel in control. But the more time they spend at work, the less available they are to spend with their children and the less they're able to be involved in treatment plans and meetings with professionals. As a result, they don't get information first-hand and feel out of the loop. It's a tough merry-go-round to get off of.

Not surprisingly, conflict, tension, and even divorce are more common in families with a disabled child. But fortunately, there are some ways of reducing the strain.

  • Join a support group. Researchers have found that men who get involved with other fathers who are facing the same issues (in a guy-only environment) feel less sadness, fatigue, pessimism, guilt, and stress, and have more feelings of satisfaction and success, fewer problems, and better decision-making abilities than dads who don't join groups. These benefits will rub off on your relationship with your partner as well.
  • Explore every possible resource for help. If your friends are able to step in, that'll help. But also check with your local school district to see what kinds of resources they have. In addition, About.com (specialchildren.about.com) has a good collection of resources, and Exceptional Parent magazine (eparent.com) provides info, support, and resources for parents and families of children with disabilities. Also, be sure to check out The Fathers Network (fathersnetwork.org), a site specifically devoted to helping fathers of children with disabilities.
  • Play and communicate with your child. Researchers at the University of Florida did a study where they taught dads to use everyday activities like building blocks, puppets, cars and trucks, and bubbles to connect with their autistic children. But there was a twist. The fathers were instructed to follow the child's lead, wait for the child's response before continuing, and not give into the temptation to direct the play. The results were wonderful. "Fathers were more likely to initiate play in an animated way and responded more to their children during playtime," said Jennifer Elder, the lead researcher. "Children also became more vocal and were more than twice as likely to initiate play with their fathers. With the proper training at an early age, we feel that these techniques can help autistic children be more socially interactive and pick up language more easily."

One particularly interesting result that the researchers hadn't expected was that a lot of the fathers trained the mothers and siblings to do the same thing. Elder and her colleagues had done similar studies training mothers and have very much the same successes. The only difference was that mothers weren't as likely to teach the dads what they'd learned.

- From www.mrdad.com

Discussion Forum

Introductions

Started by Nate. Last reply by Nate Sep 19, 2011. 3 Replies

Hello, my bio will follow, but I am looking to network with fellow fathers who are dealing with raising a child who, for whatever reason, can't run and play like his or her peers can. I know you are…Continue

Tags: delay, parenting, support, disable, autism

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Latest Activity

Jai Chipperfield replied to Josh Williams's discussion The issue of height
"I'm 6'1. I suppose I'm tall but not very tall. I don't think height has any bearing on confidence."
4 minutes ago
Michael D. Denny replied to Jai Chipperfield's discussion What to wear to a vineyard
"Outdoors tasting: Dress shoes, stylish blue jeans, a polo style shirt and semi casual sport jacket is fine.   If the tasting is indoors, dress one step up from that.   If the tasting is in a restaurant, dress one more step up…"
5 minutes ago
Steve Dallas replied to Jai Chipperfield's discussion What to wear to a vineyard
"Where are you at? If you were in the Texas Hill Country for one of the many vineyards on the 290 trail, I would say nice jeans with cowboy boots and a nice button up if you are also there to network. Would say the same for the Sonoita wine area…"
5 minutes ago
Rebekah replied to Jai Chipperfield's discussion What to wear to a vineyard
"In Napa, nice jeans, non-shiny leather shoes, belt to match shoes, long-sleeve button-down, sport coat, no tie Don't know about other wine-growing regions"
6 minutes ago
Josh Williams posted a discussion

The issue of height

I am a rather average man of height standing at a regular height of 5'10. I would like to be taller because I feel it would increase my confidence and level out the playing field that is dating. Does anyone mind sharing their height and discussing how it has affected their life? Please share. Thank you.See More
10 minutes ago
Jai Chipperfield posted a discussion

What to wear to a vineyard

I'm going to a wine tasting and vineyard tour event. There's also a bit of networking opportunities to be had. Any ideas of what to wear? My natural instinct always leads me to a waistcoat. Maybe a suit. Maybe a tweed jacket. But if I'm touring a vineyard, there's a possibility it could be muddy. Then there's the wine tasting and networking with possible future employees, I still need to be on top form with my clothes. Any ideas?See More
12 minutes ago
Walter B. Pewen replied to Lev Nikolaevich's discussion Thoughts on Sexuality: Does It Matter?
"Also Mike clearly we're different.  Betcha I've seen more of your side of the fence than you've seen mine, huh?"
13 minutes ago
Jason replied to Lev Nikolaevich's discussion Thoughts on Sexuality: Does It Matter?
"Sand... well damn I've been using crushed glass on my mangina... hahahaha"
20 minutes ago

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