All parents share similar dreams for their children. They want them to be successful at what they do; they want them to be happy. Above all, they want them to be healthy.
With scientific advances, the medical needs of more infants are being identified prior to or just after birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States one of every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. Some of these children have conditions that can be corrected with surgery or therapy. Others will have ongoing special needs throughout their lives.
Many parents undergo a seemingly uncomplicated birth experience. The preschool years may bring few, if any, concerns about their child's development. With the start of school, though, comes struggle after struggle learning the basic ABCs and math skills. Often after attempts to help with schoolwork, referrals, and evaluations, a learning disability is discovered. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 11 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 14 have a disability.
Changes in education legislation have brought new, long overdue opportunities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) remind schools and parents of their responsibility to challenge every child, and to provide the experiences and education needed for them to perform as closely as possible to their nondisabled peers. Many children with special needs continue their education through the postsecondary level.
Advocacy groups have worked to increase awareness of the needs and talents of children with special needs in school and in recreational activities as well. A child with a special need is often as involved in community and recreational activities with friends who do not have a disability as he is in activities designed to meet specific needs. No longer is a child separated because of a special need. In many instances, that same child is the star of the team or leader of the student body. Fellow students and peers in the community are growing up with an understanding that a disability does not mean lack of talent or incapacity to contribute to the group.
This new awareness of the abilities of individuals with special needs has now spread to the workplace. Employment laws have changed; fair employment practices are now mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This legislation and higher levels of training or education make working more realistic for many. The community is seeing individuals with disabilities in a new light, as contributing members of society.
The task of parents of a child with special needs is to guide their child in choices that offer quality of life in all areas: medical, educational, recreational, and employment. In addition, parents must plan for their child's future. Living arrangements, insurance, and long-range financial planning are needed.
In many ways, parenting tasks are the same for every parent. Parents of a child with special needs face the extensive decisions that all parents must make, but there are many, many more to get to the same goal … a successful, happy child.
The goal of The Everything® Parent's Guide to Children with Special Needs is to support parents who are facing uncommon decisions with information and ideas that can help them make the best choices for their child.