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Meet with the person who did the assessment. This can help you understand the disability and the next steps for your child. It helps to ask for the following information during the meeting:
There are many ways you can support your child:
Maintain a positive approach. Accept and believe in your child's abilities. Your response towards your child's disability can impact his or her self-esteem.
There are many ways that you can help your child gain the skills to let people know about his or her disability and accommodations that might be needed in certain situations.
Advocacy is speaking in support of something, such as an idea, need or right. It can be for the purpose of increasing awareness or to change how things are done.
Learning how to socialize is a part of a child's development, just as speaking, movement and thinking are a part of development. While each child develops at a different rate, you can help your child increase their social skills.
If there are specialists who work with your child (ex: child development worker, occupational therapist or speech-language pathologist), they can provide activities for you to do with your child to help with specific developmental areas.
There are many online sources that provide activities to promote development. The following website contains activities for your child at various developmental stages:
For school age children, talk with the school team about activities you can do at home. For more information on your child's education and working with the school team, please see the Education section.
Respite is a brief break for caregivers, while children participate in positive, meaningful activities. It can be provided inside or outside of the child's home and helps provide balance in the life of parents.
Respite can be provided through various agencies. If you do not qualify, or would like more time, there may be informal supports in your life that can provide an hour or two of respite. Informal supports include friends, extended family and neighbours. Faith-based organizations and non-profit organizations may also offer respite.
In Manitoba, there are various organizations that provide respite:
Through respite, children experience new relationships and can try new activities that promote development.
Parenting a child with a disability may present additional challenges and require more time. Whether respite is used for rest and relaxation, exercise, running errands or quality time with a partner or other children, it gives caregivers greater balance in their lives.
Raising a child with a disability may be challenging for a couple. That doesn't mean it will have a negative impact on your relationship. Some relationships may be strengthened, through increased communication, shared responsibilities and the development of coping skills. To maintain a strong bond, keep communication open and ensure that you spend time together. Try to minimize stress by:
Through time and events, siblings of a child with a disability may experience a range of emotions. There are times when your child may feel that their brother or sister with a disability is receiving most of your attention, care and concern. At times, your child may feel sensitive or uncertain of how to deal with the reactions of others towards his or her sibling.
It is helpful to talk openly with your children about their sibling's disability in a reassuring way. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know that what they are experiencing is normal. Take time to talk with them when they need to connect with you.
There are many different options available for support. Parents can turn to both the natural supports that they have in their lives (ex: family and friends) and assistance available through organizations.
Families often have natural supports that can help with some of the additional needs that may come from having a child with a disability. Natural supports may include family members (spouse, parents, siblings), friends, neighbours and members of the faith community.
Your natural supports can help in many ways, such as taking your child on outings or coming over to your house to give you time to run errands. You can also arrange play dates and share the care and supervision of children. These arrangements will provide time for you to recharge and take care of necessary tasks.
Assistance that is available to parents through organizations varies across Manitoba. Depending on each family's situation, there are a range of supports that parents may find valuable, such as:
The specialists who are involved with your child can connect you with helpful programs. Talk with service providers about possibilities in your community. If your child receives services from Children's disABILITY Services, contact your Family Services Worker. Your worker will talk with you about the sources of challenge or stress. Based on these causes, he or she will link you with appropriate supports. Please see the following website to contact the Children's disABILITY Services office in your area:
The Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg provides a description of available services throughout Manitoba in the Contact Community Information guide. The following website contains a search tool for services throughout Manitoba. You can search by topic or by region (city, town).
Family-centred practice recognizes that parents are experts on their children and are key to their children's healthy development. This approach incorporates the strengths, priorities and cultural influences of families into services provided. With parents bringing valuable awareness of their child's interests, dislikes, strengths and needs — and professionals providing expertise in their area — an effective service plan can be developed.
Parents have the right to be informed about the full range of services and supports that are available. This will help them make informed choices about the types of services they feel will best meet the needs of their family. When working with service systems, parents have rights that protect the privacy of their child and their family. Information given to a service provider is confidential and cannot be shared without the consent of the parent. Parents must also ensure that information about their child and family remains current. Report any changes right away.
Each person involved in service planning has a vital role to play. Parents know their child's interests, strengths and needs from interacting with their child everyday and seeing them in a variety of activities and situations. Professionals bring specialized knowledge in their areas of expertise. As the child gets older, he can contribute important information about how the program is meeting his needs. The best plan can be created when everyone works together.
The following tips can help to ensure your child is receiving the necessary services:
There are a few options that are available to support you in advocating for your child:
Each situation is unique. Since there may be additional responsibilities involved in caring for a child with a disability, The Human Rights Code, under the characteristic of Family Status, provides protection for parents who are in this situation. However, the need must go beyond what parents of children without a disability would experience.
An accommodation is a change in the way that something is usually done because of a special need. There are many types of workplace accommodations that are available, including:
Employers have a responsibility, or duty, to accommodate for a special need up to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship is an unreasonable or unmanageable burden on an organization. Although there are times when an employer may not be able to provide an accommodation, they must still follow a process to explore the possibilities. When considering an accommodation, there are many factors that are taken into consideration:
In some cases, people may receive an accommodation that is not their first choice. If an employer cannot provide the preferred accommodation, people can explore with their employers how their needs can be met, while making sure the workplace can continue to function effectively. The following example shows how parents of a child with a disability received different accommodations that met their own and their employers' needs.
Ted and Nancy are working parents of a child with complex health needs requiring full time nursing care. Sometimes, they are called to return home when their child is experiencing a major health issue. The employers of both parents explored options that allow the parents to be with their child, while not affecting their workplaces. Ted's employer arranged for other employees to fill-in when Ted was away. Nancy, who works in emergency services, accepted a different position in the organization that allows her to leave work on short notice.
When making a request for your employer to make an accommodation, follow these steps outlined by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission:
For more information, contact the Manitoba Human Rights Commission at 204-945-3007 in Winnipeg or 1-888-884-8681 toll free.
Being treated differently can happen for a variety of reasons, including a person being unaware of how to interact with someone who has a disability. If you feel comfortable discussing the issues with the people involved, let them know the specific behaviours that are creating unequal treatment or causing a barrier for your child. Discuss ways that your child can have an inclusive experience.
If you do not feel comfortable approaching the people, or have tried unsuccessfully to address the matter, you can contact the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. The commission is the agency that administers The Human Rights Code. It is authorized to mediate and investigate complaints of discrimination and refer matters to adjudication when it has been determined there is enough evidence. Their role includes promoting human rights and educating the public.