Offering help for parents of children (of any age) with special needs

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We have several customers who frequent GreenAcres Markets with special needs children in tow. Often those children need special supplements and food to help them develop and to ward off allergies and food sensitivity attacks. We’re honored that they come to our stores to find what works.

Our founder, Barb Hoffmann is particularly in empathy with those parents and children. Barb and John Hoffmann raised a special-needs youngster who is now in her 40s and visits our store often. Shane has thrived because of the Hoffmann’s search for what works.

So when Jenny Wise asked if she could be a guest blogger and give some tips to those parents who might still be struggling, we were thrilled. Below are Jenny’s “Six Tips for Parents of Adult Children with Special Needs.”

By Jenny Wise

As mom of a child with special needs, I know that other parents of children with special needs spend time worrying about how to help their youngsters learn, and parents of adult children with special needs fill their days and nights worrying how to provide for them long-term. Choosing an educational path that will help a child throughout his lifetime is a tall order, but here are some suggestions that I hope will help.

  • Encourage Your Child To Be as Independent as Possible

Self-care skills of dressing, grooming, and cooking are no brainers, but how about teaching an adult child to interact with others, balance a checkbook, ride a bus, help with family chores.

Preparing him/her to be a productive member of society, and to continue to encourage learning new skills will give you peace of mind and affirm that you’ve done your level best.

  • Find a Work Program for Your Adult Child with Special Needs

Programs are available to help adults with special needs develop skills so they can get work and remain gainfully employed. These programs are designed to match adults’ skill levels to job tasks and offer pre-employment training to better prepare them for the workplace. Quality work programs for adults with special needs also ensure new employees work alongside employment specialists who assist them, supervise them, and provide on-the-job training as needed.

  • Provide Vocational Training

Many adults with special needs excel in jobs or hobbies that are methodical and give them a chance to work with their hands. People with special needs often do well in flower shops arranging flowers, tying blows and making balloon bouquets. They enjoy working on cars and doing repetitive jobs such as stuffing envelopes, putting nuts, bolts, wires and widgets into designated compartments—work manufacturers find tedious and welcome those who can stay on task and be happy doing it.

If you can’t find a work program in your area that provides vocational training, you may find training for your adult child at a local college or public school that offers such a program. Sometimes, employers and small business owners are willing to take on special adults as apprentices who help out after hours until they learn a trade. Pizza Hut and Dillons stores are examples of corporations that welcome those with developmental disabilities.

  • Get a Tutor

If your adult child requires one-to-one help with basic reading, writing or math skills, consider getting a tutor—especially one that understands how to adapt and modify lessons for people with learning disabilities and challenges such as dyslexia. Some of these disabilities go undiagnosed.  Having a highly-qualified tutor who can identify the characteristics and symptoms of problems with hand-eye coordination can go a long way in unlocking your adult child’s natural abilities.

  • Ensure Caregivers Spend Time Developing Your Child’s Abilities

If you have a caregiver for your adult child with special needs, ensure that he/she actively works with him and helps him develop his skills and abilities. Map out goals and see that your child is enrolled in activities that he enjoys so that he stays motivated and engaged: art projects, music lessons and activities that build fine and gross motor skills.

  • Find a Center for Continuing Vocational Rehabilitation

If your adult child has special needs relating to a physical or mental impairment, look into finding a center for continuing vocational rehabilitation. People who qualify for these services become more prepared for entering work or vocational programs and eventually become gainfully employed. State government agencies are good resources for locating continuing vocational rehabilitation centers in your area.

About the author

Jenny Wise homeschools four children. She shares her adventures in homeschooling at Special Home Educator.