Having a child who has a disability or special needs can have a significant impact on the entire family -- parents, siblings, and extended family members. It can highlight family members’ strengths, create closer and more meaningful relationships, and connect families to community organizations or religious groups. It can also lead to less time spent together as a family, put stress on emotional and physical demands, and cause financial difficulties. The impact that a child with a disability has on the family typically depends on the type and severity of condition, as well as the emotional and financial stability of the family.
For parents, having a child with a disability can increase stress, effect physical and mental health, and make it difficult to find affordable childcare. It can affect decisions about work, education, and even having additional children. It may also affect parents’ expectations of healthy siblings in terms of achievement, responsibility, and household contributions. All of these possible effects on families can impact the health and well being of children with disabilities.
It is especially important to openly and honestly communicate thoughts and feelings as a family. If your family is struggling to adapt to having a child with a disability or special needs, please know that you are not alone in your challenges. Finding families who have experienced similar struggles can be incredibly reassuring. And a family counselor can help with the complicated dynamics involved in such families.
Written by Jeff Liebert, MA. Jeff has specific experience working with families of disabled and special needs children. For more information on Jeff and the services he offers, click here.
Jeff Liebert, Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern #83284
Employed by Caldwell-Clark
Supervised by Ben Caldwell, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #42723