Families caring for children with special needs, such as Down syndrome, face tremendous obstacles and challenges, yet they exhibit extraordinary courage that focuses on the care, nurturing and protection of their child that is special in so many ways.
Children, with any disabilities, require endless hours of attention: medical appointments, therapies such as speech and / or occupational, hippo therapy, hospital visits, and / or surgeries. Parents and caregivers spend sleepless nights watching, listening, comforting and worrying.
However, add to those responsibilities the normal routines of life, and we can imagine the tremendous affect on every family member in the home.
The hours of care may mean that siblings will not always have immediate needs / and or wants met. Mom or dad may miss games, practices, recitals or bedtimes. Daily responsibilities, such as laundry, cleaning, and cooking may not get done, or may be dispensed with older children, while youngger children may feel neglected, scared or confused.
The expenses and the financial means (or lack of) may be overwhelming. Insurance may be insufficient to meet all the medical needs. Second mortgages may be needed and life-savings may be wiped out to make sure that every necessary treatment, surgery and the best possible care is provided. Days that seemed short before suddenly run together when the responsibilities of running a home and the immunity strain, concern and care of a special child collide.
Seeking help outside of the immediate realm of friends and family are often times difficult for these families. Many do not want to impersonate others, may be embarrassed or ashamed, thinking that they should be able to handle it on their own, or simply do not know where to turn.
If only a few people see and understand the needs of such a family, and come together to assist, they can bring tremendous relief in unlimited ways. By educating a community, and working together, a family with a special needs child will have less stress and more time to not only care for their child, but the entire family unit.
Local clerges and parishes are considered caregivers, and have vast resources and abilities which bring financial, emotional, and spiritual support. Fund raisers, such as bake sales, may not only provide financial relief, but also brings awareness to other individuals and businesses locally, creating more resources that can benefit a family in need.
Local high schools may have teens that are willing to offer child care, outings to local parks or trips to the library. Others may offer lawn care and simple maintenance work to ease the upkeep of the home. Individuals who enjoy garage and yard sales, can bring entire neighborhoods together, donating the proceeds to the family. Many more may supply items. Those that enjoy cooking may band together and offer weekly meals, while others may offer to shop, clean or provide rest to an exhausted caregiver.
By understanding the needs of those with these extraordinary circumstances, willingly offering skills, talents and time, and educating those around them, a community can participate in the care and well-being of a member of their own family: their neighbor.