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: 11
Latest Activity: Sep 2, 2016

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

Carl Monster replied to Ulises Torres's discussion I am responsible for co-sleeping
"We co-slept for a quite a while, combination of having a great sleeper and a room she had to share with our older daughter. We could not Ferberize her like our younger, because the older's sleep would have been disrupted. Around when we weaned…"
20 minutes ago
Tarquin Anstruther replied to Ulises Torres's discussion I am responsible for co-sleeping
"There was a post somewhere about this before which you might be able to find. make your daughters bedroom special for her, put things she likes there, get her a soft toy she loves and let her choose the things she wants around her. A lot of parents…"
2 hours ago
Ulises Torres replied to Ulises Torres's discussion I am responsible for co-sleeping
"It's also almost 3am so I apologize for all the typos!"
5 hours ago
Ulises Torres posted a discussion

I am responsible for co-sleeping

My daughter is now 15 months and fit the most part sleeps on.my chest. Whether it's nap time, or bed time. I do acknowledge that this is wrong. Me and my fiancée are first time parents. Her mom passed away in January of 2015. Her dad also passed away when she was younger. My parents live about 30-40 minutes away. They on the other hand have to deal with my oldest sister who has decided she didn't want to "adult" anymore and now my parents help her and her three kids al the time. Needless to say…See More
5 hours ago
Apollyon replied to Nevada Smith's discussion Myers-Briggs Personality Types
"I am INFP or INTP. That's why I can't seem to be accurate in these types of tests. I seem to be halfway in-between each time I take it, so I'm basically both, depending on the questions. Usually F/T are close enough where it's…"
5 hours ago
Pale Horse replied to Nevada Smith's discussion Myers-Briggs Personality Types
"It's a decent tool to, depending on how you interpret the old saying, "know thyself." And, she said that she took an MBTI test for her job."
9 hours ago
Sir replied to Nevada Smith's discussion Myers-Briggs Personality Types
"I don't see much value in it.  I get that I'm an introvert, but the other axes, how does it help?"
10 hours ago
James White replied to Tony L's discussion The Strenuous Life
"HI All, Does anyone have more definite information on the program? While I appreciate the principle I am not sure what a paid program is supposed to do and how it will be a benefit. I suppose $30 is not a lot for the right result. But what do we get…"
10 hours ago

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