How To Support a Love One With Special Needs

If you have a loved one with special needs, you’ll certainly want to provide the best possible support. This might include physical, educational, emotional, social and financial elements that will help your loved one grow and flourish.

Physical Support

Begin by making sure your loved one has full physical support. This might mean providing necessary equipment for better mobility, setting up exercise plans or therapy schedules or taking your loved one on walks or bike rides or play days in the park. You should also work to help your loved one establish good eating habits. Junk food tastes great and is fun, but encourage a diet of lean proteins, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables instead to help maintain a healthy weight.

Educational Support

Your loved one also needs educational support to build and apply useful skills. Look for educational opportunities geared toward your loved one’s abilities and needs. Community education classes may be a good option as some of them are specifically for people with special needs. Spend some time reading with your loved one, too, or doing puzzles or games or crafts that teach necessary skills. You’ll both have fun.

Emotional Support

Provide plenty of emotional support for you special needs loved one. Life can be tough, and we all know how hard it can be to cope with stress. Offer a listening ear and lots of big hugs. You might also teach your loved one some techniques for managing stress and regaining calm. Music therapy, guided breathing exercises or simple meditation might work well. If necessary, set up counseling sessions for your loved one when you don’t feel like you can get through or do much to help.

Social Support

Make sure that your loved one has plenty of opportunities for socialization. Clubs that reflect your loved one’s interests might work well. Reading groups, game clubs or sports teams are all possibilities. Also, make sure that your loved one has a good group of friends, and encourage the group to get together often. Allow your loved one to go to friends’ homes (with supervision as needed, of course), and invite friends over for meals, movie nights and games. You might even plan some outings for your loved one andfriends. A shopping trip or a day at the zoo are good options as well as an afternoon at a museum or even some time at a local park.

Financial Support

Finally, don’t neglect your loved one’s financial support. You might, for instance, consider setting up special needs trusts to provide future financial security. You could also work with your loved one on finding suitable jobs. Provide some job training options, and work through an agency that focuses on special needs workers. As your loved one earns some money, you should introduce the concepts of budgeting and saving. Be sure to provide supervision as needed but also to allow your loved one freedom to make some financial choices and learn how to manage money.

Supporting your special needs loved one physically, educationally, emotionally, socially and financially certainly requires time and effort, but it may be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.

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