Groups and Gatherings
The minute your child was born she became a part of many groups: family, neighborhood, community, newborn peers, and babies with special needs. Expect that your child will become an active member of those groups. Expect that the people in these groups will accept and nurture your child as an individual with gifts, strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
Family and Friends
You should expect that your family and friends will be involved in your life and the life of your baby. The birth of a baby with special needs does not change your need for contact with others. In fact, it increases that need. Sadly, in a few situations, parents are not always around to see their children grow up. Taken by illness or injury, the loss of a parent calls for family or friends to step in. That transition, if necessary, will be easier for all if they are involved in your child's life from the beginning.
Expect that your child will be connected with her peers (disabled and nondisabled). A child with special needs should not live a sheltered life away from others. Peers force us to grow and catch us when we fall. Peers are the lifelong travelers with us on earth. Expect your child to be involved with her peers throughout her life.
Anticipate that you will need a little time to come to grips with how to help your child. Most parents did not expect to have a child with special needs. They are overwhelmed with appointments and things that need to be done — including a time of grief.
Give yourself some space and some time. Then jump back into the swing of things. You may need to tweak your involvement in community activities, but do not pull out of everything you were involved in before your baby's birth. Community activities will be important for your child's development and your own personal satisfaction. Plan to stay involved.
Agencies for Special Needs
At first, you will be dealing with appointments and questions, and will be working to meet the physical needs of your baby. Soon you will be looking for others who are on a similar path. Become involved with community agencies that work with families of children with special needs. Get involved early. Involve your child. Community agencies with years of experience are there to help.