Will Things Ever Be Normal Again?
Dealing With the Emotions of Change
February 10, 2013—Family dynamics can alter dramatically when the onset of a serious neurological disorder manifests itself in a child. This is because to one degree or another, the changes that occur from the child’s disorder also affect every other member of the family.
This is why after diagnosis parents often ask me, “Will things ever be normal again?” Perhaps what they really mean is, will things ever be easy again?
What has to be established is a “new normal” within the family. One which embraces and incorporates the disorder into a reasonable and functional way of life for everyone in the family, and one in which family members can maintain their sense of identity.
For example, a family whose child suffers from severe symptoms can feel that they have lost the freedom to go out to dinner or on family vacations because of the special needs child. That does not necessarily have to be the case.
I always suggest to families that they start by building a support system. Building a support system takes in a wide variety of people and services but it will help the family transition without having to surrender their world to the special needs of the child.
Following are some basic steps parents can take to begin building a support system:
- Properly educate the family about the child’s disorder so everyone understands what to expect.
- Build a list of phone numbers of family members and trusted friends for venting.
- Attend support groups for your child’s disorder and don’t be afraid to ask support group members to help out while offering the same service in return.
- Make available family counseling with a professional therapist and/or individual counseling for family members.
- Involve your child’s school for available educational and other related services.
A good support system takes time to build, but it needs to be established as soon as possible. Things may never be the same again, but that does not have to mean family members cannot build a new normal for themselves, one that supports parents, siblings and the special needs child.
February 10, 2013