Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Educate Yourself about Your Child's Disability (By: Grandma Jeddah)

Educate Yourself
It is particularly important for parents to educate themselves regarding their child’s disability so they can understand the child better and learn the special techniques needed to handle such children. In addition, it is wise to seek out parenting groups, support groups and other helpful resources for moral support.  
    
            If your child has a mild to moderate cognitive disability or a learning disability, it’s important to find out what her developmental age (functioning age) is in various areas of performance such as physical and motor capabilities, daily tasks, academic abilities and other areas of competencies.  You’ll also want to find out what the abilities are for a normal child of the same chronological age (true age) as your child. All of this information can be obtained from the special education resource person in your local public school. Once you have this information, it will allow you to determine if the expectations you have for your child are unrealistic and should be reset accordingly. It will also allow you to see the degree to which your child differs from children without such a disability.  Parents sometimes have unrealistic and excessively high expectations regarding how their child with a learning disability or cognitive disability should behave or act.

            If your child has a cognitive disability and has the developmental age of a 6- to 8-year-old, but is chronologically (true age) 15-years-old and she is still unable to recite surah Fatiha as well as the last 3 surahs of Quran without numerous mistakes, she may simply lack the intellectual ability to memorize the surahs without error. Her performance of salat certainly should not be judged based upon the average 15-year-old’s maturity level.

Guiding Them
 Children with a cognitive disability take longer to learn than the average child. Your child might need to be reminded more frequently and for a longer period of time in order to master certain behaviors or skills. For instance, it might take years rather than weeks or months for your 15-year-old daughter to master the skill of proper bathroom etiquette-- using water after relieving herself and wiping correctly and sufficiently.  To encourage her to maintain proper habits, compliment her often. When you see her maintaining proper hygiene, tell her she’s a good Muslim. Let her know that what she’s done is good. Creating incentive charts can be extremely helpful as well. You will find more on incentive charts in chapter 5.

Praise is extremely important for your child.  Praise your child generously when you find her following your instructions. Children with cognitive disabilities and learning disabilities thrive on compliments, praise and encouragement.  They can never get enough. If you want them to behave a particular way, just remember to compliment them often when they do it.  Their performance of your instructions needn’t be 100% perfect.  Praising effort is just as important as complimenting performance for your child with a cognitive disability.  Your 12-year-old may not place all the freshly folded clothes in their proper drawers. However, she should still be commended for her efforts in doing the job.


Be a Friend 
One of the best ways to establish proper discipline with your child who has a cognitive disability is by developing a close relationship with her.  Your child’s manners and awkwardness in social situations can prevent her from developing close emotional ties with friends. Because of this, a solid relationship with family--and particularly parents--is even more important. Many sufferers of cognitive disabilities believe that the pain of being lonely and not having friends or significant relationships far outweighs the difficulties they suffer from being incompetent in their abilities.

I remember hearing a story once. A man with a cognitive disability lived in a home for the mentally challenged. To the attendants’ dismay, they'd often find him pulling and grabbing at his face and mouth. He'd pull until his lip was bloody and partially hanging off. Because of sexual misconduct issues, workers were not allowed to have unnecessary physical contact or display affection towards patients.  Whenever this patient began his episode of face disfiguring, the attendants would grab him and hold him tight to physically restrain him from harming himself further. They would then take him to the hospital to have his lip repaired.  This pattern of behavior continued for some time.   The employees later came to realize that the man’s extreme actions were a drastic attempt to have someone embrace and hold him.  He was starving for love and affection.  The desire to be held was so strong that he severely mutilated himself just to receive the close physical contact of a person.   

More excerpts continued, insha'Allah



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