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BellaOnline's Special Education Editor

Timeout for Parents

Parents of special needs children spend much of their time, energy, and financial resources on their children. Special needs children generally require more attention than typical children. Parents of these special needs children know their childrenís needs and know how to care for their children. Because special needs children require special care, their parents often feel that they should not leave their children in the care of others, particularly those who are not trained in working with special needs children. Thus, parents of children with special needs rarely take time for themselves or their spouse.

Caring for a child with special needs comes with great emotional strain. Parents of children with special needs often find it difficult to take their children out in public, so many special needs families spend nearly all their time at home. This means the parents arenít getting the social interaction and satisfaction the parents of typical children have. Eventually, many parents feel they lose their own identity as they spend so much time caring for their children.

Little do these parents realize that sometimes the best thing for their children is for the parents to take some time out for themselves. These harried, stressed out parents need to take time to rejuvenate themselves and their marriages. Otherwise, the parents become burned out, exhausted, and frustrated. It is hard to care for someone else if the caregiver has little energy himself. By taking a little time for themselves, parents gain better perspective and realize they can still have an individual identity. They come back feeling rejuvenated and hopeful. Marriages are strengthened as parents are able to leave their children for short periods of time and focus on each other instead.

Taking time out does not mean spending a lot of money or doing something elaborate. It can be as simple as reading a book in a place without interruptions or taking a brisk walk. Individual circumstances will dictate exactly what the parents can do. Finances and time as well as specific needs of the child will have to be determined in order to decide what activities would be best. Parents must feel comfortable with the person or people they leave their special needs child with. They must carefully select someone to care for their child while they are away. Grandparents or other family members are often a good choice in caring for these special needs children.

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