Get involved with advocacy on a local level.
Does your community have any advocacy groups fighting for children with special needs? It might be a parent group focused on special education, a branch of a national organization, or an informal support group organized by therapists. Maybe you’ve heard about it but never quite gotten around to joining, or joined but found it easier to just stay home. Let today be the day you make that phone call or send that e-mail or write that meeting time on your calendar. There’s strength in numbers.
Build a network of community support.
A large circle of people who know and appreciate and encourage your child is incredibly valuable. Make a list of the people who support your child on a daily basis. Include teachers, paraprofessionals, friendly school personnel, parents of friends, therapists, bus drivers, and anyone else who enjoys your child. Let those people know as often as you can how much you appreciate them and value their place in your family’s life. To widen that circle, get your child involved in activities like Special Olympics, Little League Challenger Division baseball, special-needs social groups, and anywhere you can find people who have a heart for special kids.
Increase your family’s visibility.
It’s easier to ignore, neglect, and disrespect people you’ve never met. One thing you can do to make the world a better place for kids with disabilities is to let them out in it. You’ll want to strategize your outings so that your child can have a positive experience — a lengthy trip to the supermarket after a long day at school is not your best bet. But going to a school activity for as long as your child can happily tolerate it might be. It’s tempting to hide out at home to escape the mean looks and judgmental attitudes we sometimes encounter, but you also deny people the opportunity to smile, be kind, and get to know a child like yours.