Many parents deal with infertility for months, or even years.
When the couple finally manages to realize the dream of a lifetime, which is to conceive a child, they never think about the possibility that there may be some problem with their baby’s health.
The arrival of this news is a whirlwind of emotions and feelings. It is a dream that for many couples has been shattered.
When parents are confronted with this news, they need time to digest all the information and assimilate the news.
Not everyone reacts in the same way, there are parents who decide together that they are not prepared for the arrival of a baby with neurological and7 or physical problems and decide to terminate the pregnancy.
However, there are parents who, despite knowing that they will have a difficult time, decide to go ahead with the pregnancy and love that baby despite all the conditions. It is up to each family to decide the best course of action for the couple and their home.
These are difficult decisions, as there are several types of disabilities in babies, some can even lead to the baby’s death at birth. In these cases, the family has to be prepared for the possibility of leaving the maternity ward with an empty lap and a shattered dream.
Even though there is the possibility that the child may have a high degree of disability, he or she is still a loved one, still a dream for his or her parents.
However, various opinions and points of view arise in relation to this type of issue.
Is it right to bring a being into life who can spend his or her days dependent on others? Is it right to uproot its family? Many questions may arise, however, no one has the legitimacy to question or oppose the parents’ decision.
The Role of Parents in the Acceptance of Disability
Knowing about all disabilities becomes a very complex task since there is a wide range of disabilities. But behind every disability, there is a person who should be known and valued just as much as another without any apparent disability.
To this end, parents or close family members play a key role in how a child will act toward a partner or friend with a disability. According to Albert Bandura’s theory, children learn by imitation, following their parents’ model, especially when it comes to social skills or behaviors.
All this can be imitated by the child, thus creating a mistaken view of disability that will affect the values and coexistence between equals with or without disability.
It is obvious that a 5-year-old child will not understand what tetraplegia is, but can accept that he or she walks differently from them without the need to turn functional diversity into a disease. In the same way, a child should view differences in skin color, religion, and language as normal. Parents must teach these values of respect and empathy to the wheelchair, the cane, and the sign language.
Don’t put limits on a disabled child, be his lever for his dreams.
Dealing with disability as parents
The birth of a child with disability represents having to deal with a child who is different from the one who was planned and idealized, and suddenly changes the organization of this family, along with their dreams and projects. In most cases, parents are not prepared to deal with such a situation, so the birth of that baby, which was supposed to be a moment of celebration, becomes permeated by an atmosphere of frustration, anguish, doubts, and fear.
The first experiences of interaction of parents and family members with the child may be compromised due to the impact and shock produced by the news of the diagnosis, compromising the bonding and acceptance of this baby.
The visibility of the disability determines the initial shock to the perception of it, and the feeling of disbelief to the situation. The more visible the disability, the more immediate will be the concern and the resulting embarrassment.
When the birth of a child with a disability occurs, there are five stages of reactions that parents go through:
- The first stage is shock, this caused by the initial impact of the news. There is crying, irrational behavior, feelings of helplessness, and an urge to run away.
- The second stage is denial/disbelief, in which parents deny that their child has a disability.
- The third stage is the presence of intense feelings of sadness, anger, and anxiety, the most common being sadness.
- The fourth stage is the equilibrium stage, in which the parents adapt, get closer to the baby and the feelings of anxiety decrease, increasing the adjustment to the situation and the confidence to take care of the child.
And in the fifth stage, reorganization occurs; in this phase the parents deal with the responsibility for the baby’s problems and there is family reorganization.
What does intellectual disability entail?
Currently, intellectual disability is understood as the existence of a level of development significantly below that expected for the person’s chronological age in two areas:
- Intellectual functioning.
- Adaptive behaviors.
Difficulties experienced by the child:
- Problems performing gross and fine motor skills.
- Muscle hypotonia.
- Difficulties relating to the physical environment.
- Problems establishing social and communicative interactions.
- Difficulties in developing personal independence and autonomy
- Learn observation and intervention strategies.
- Acquire stimulation and creative skills.
- Develop skills for education and interpretation of the child’s behaviors.
- Receive information about intellectual disabilities.
- Get in touch with other families in the same situation.
All this knowledge is necessary to achieve adequate progress in all aspects of the life of a child with intellectual disabilities. But in addition, it is especially necessary that parents do not exercise overprotection when dealing with their children.