Many times when a friend has a child with special needs and we see them struggling, we want to help, but like other health issues we’re not sure what to say, what to do or how to help. Every special needs child is different and their reactions to things can be very different. One child may need lots of activity to help them calm down at the appropriate times. Another child may get frightened by loud noises or having lots of people around. Some are bothered when their schedule gets disrupted even the slightest bit or when the wrong brand of food is offered. Navigating those waters can feel like a minefield for a parent, dodging meltdowns, rages, and compromising the child’s health. So what is a friend to do? No matter what, special needs families have the same needs and desires that regular families do, but they can be more challenging. These are some tangible ways to help a special needs family and when you start helping, we all can become stronger.
Ways to Help a Special Needs Family
Offer to accompany them on errands
Push the cart, the wheelchair, keep the child company while the parents do the shopping.
Make them dinner
Ask about allergies or aversions, but almost anyone would be appreciative of a meal.
House and yard help
It all needs to be done, but with so many other priorities the details can get left undone. Laundry, deep cleaning, vacuuming, mowing the grass, washing windows.
Take a few minutes and sit with them just like you would any friend.
Offer respite care (it’s not babysitting when the child is a teenager or an adult…)
Watch their child so that they can get a nap, get a mani/pedi, or just run errands alone.
Help with the child at church
Give the parents a chance to a get a real refreshing.
Help with expenses
Medical and specialty equipment is expensive and most special needs family are struggling financially because of ongoing medical bills or the inability of both parents to work because one needs to stay home with the child. Help raise funds for a wheelchair or specialty stroller, diapers and wipes, a weighted blanket or other necessary equipment.
No matter what the offer, you are almost always going to get a yes from a special needs family. Mostly they just want to know that when they are stuck in their house day after day, that people still love and care for them.