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The Department of Education’s website has a disabilities information center with many resources to assist you. The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilita- tion Research has a central focus on the whole person with a disability, researching advancements to improve quality of life and function. The Special Needs Alliance provides a connection to free attorney services that practice disability and public benefits law.


Siblings of kids with special needs are


at greater risk for having special needs themselves. The CDC has a campaign and website called Learn the Signs, Act Early


, focused on helping parents identify


developmental milestones and seek early intervention. The National Center for Chil- dren and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) State Resource Sheet identifies the name and telephone number of your state’s contact person for programs for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities.


  Joining a support group is one of the most important things you can do, online or in person. The NICHCY has listings of parent groups and programs for which your child may be eligible. Parents Helping Parents is a parent-directed, community-based nonprofit helping to connect parents of children with special needs to other par- ents, resources and services. Another critical element as a parent is to


care for yourself. Many times, people want to help but don't know how. Be clear about your needs. Ask a friend to bring a meal when you are having a hard day. Invite another mom for a pedicure. Have a date night with your partner. Don't feel guilty





taking time away. Know that you will make mistakes. You will have bad days and melt- downs. Forgive yourself and move on. Look online at the ARCH National Respite Network Resource Center, which helps connect families to safe, competent respite care. Remember that siblings need respite care, too. It’s normal for siblings to sometimes be jealous, and have con- flicting emotions toward a sibling with special needs. Allow them to express their feelings openly and honestly. Encourage sibling bonds with other supportive adults to make it easier when emotional burdens are too great to meet all children's needs at the same time. Above all, remember that you are a superhero, even when you don't feel like one. Every day you are providing care, giving medication, managing specialists, calming meltdowns, finding the special blanket or toy. You never give up hope and you encourage your child to do what oth- ers have deemed impossible. Being a parent of a child with special needs can be super-difficult sometimes, but the benefits are super-rewarding. Remem- ber to celebrate the small accomplish- ments. Take a picture of a good moment to have a ready dose of encouragement when you need it most. Don't let insensitive com- ments dishearten you, and don't compare kids. Your child is unique and special. When other parents discuss their children's ac- complishments, focus on your child's per- sonality strengths and the way your child encourages and completes your family.


Jessica Peck, DNP, RN, CPNP-PC, CNE, CNL, is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University and has been practicing in pediatrics for more than 20 years. She is currently the secretary for NAPNAP.


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