Additional needs? What about the parents – it affects them too!

If you have a child who has additional needs you will know exactly what I’m talking about! The constant worry and over-thinking that you do to make sure your child has the same opportunities and experiences as everyone else.

My son’s additional needs

My son, Harry, is severely sight impaired. When he was in school I would worry about whether he was ok physically and emotionally. Being classed as blind there is an awful lot that he misses in everyday life. School was hard. I often worried about him as I know that teachers are often too busy to consider fully the needs of my child beyond that of the classroom.

Harry has additional needs. He has colobomas in his optic nerve, a micropthalmic eye and nystagmus. He is registered as severely sight impaired.

School worries from a parent’s perspective

Harry would often lose his friends in the playground as he could not keep track of other children running in the playground. I would worry on two counts here. Number one – were there any things in the playground that he wouldn’t see and potentially cause him to fall and hurt himself? Number two – would he end up on his own feeling lonely and sad because he couldn’t find his friends? When I spoke to the teachers about this I often felt like I was coming across as one of those ‘over-protective’ parents. But for a parent this is a very real worry. Particularly if your child has a disability!

I would also worry about Harry in class. Every time a report would come back from the visual impairment teacher it would demonstrate that Harry was missing out on a lot of the learning opportunities in the classroom as he did not know what he couldn’t see to tell the adult he hadn’t seen it. He actually kept up with the pace of learning extremely well considering the amount he missed due to his lack of sight – this was more luck than judgement!

When I made suggestions about how things could be changed to support him I was often left with the impression that the teachers felt I was fussing. Now I know this was not the case as Harry was having constant headaches and daily occurrences of feeling sick due to the lack of taking his needs on board.

How can parents help?

Schools need to realise that in the majority of cases the parents know their children best! We have their best interests completely and solely at heart. If we make a suggestion it is based on a lifetime of knowing our child and trialing what does and doesn’t work.

Parents should be a teachers best resource with regards to the additional needs of their children. They need to know more than the average parent. Parents need to do more than the average parent. They need more patience than the average parent. Instead of fighting parents, join forces and work together to support one another. Listen to one another – we all want the same thing which is for the child to succeed. This only happens if we all work together.

Instead of thinking we know best we need to pool our knowledge and resources to gain the advantage. This will be best in the long run for the child and the additional needs. At the end of the day as parents we only want what is best for our children.

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