Being a parent or carer of a child with SEND can be tiring, stressful and bewildering, but there is help available, for instance:
- You might also find it useful to contact a helpline, or receive emotional support from a befriender or counsellor. Contact Family Action’s Digital Parent Support Service.
- Perhaps join an online or face-to-face parent/carer support group. There are different groups available – such as local groups focusing on a specific condition, or more general support groups for any parents and carers who have children with SEND.
- If you have a young child, contact your local Children’s Centre, where you will be able to access a wide variety of services, such as health visitors, speech and language therapists, and childcare.
Many charities offer information and advice for parents and carers. A detailed list is available on our Useful Links page. Contact a Family, for example, offers assistance to parents of disabled children and produces information sheets on a wide range of topics and conditions.
Caring for a child with SEND can cause strains with a partner and with other children. Charities such as RELATE, One to One and Contact a Family can provide support on managing relationships when caring for children with SEND. You may also wish to speak to your GP about a possible referral to CAMHS to see whether you are entitled to family therapy.
If you feel you have reached crisis point, speak to your GP, SENCO or family support worker and they will arrange for support.
Dealing with behaviour that challenges
Firstly, don’t blame yourself if your child displays behaviour that challenges. Your local behaviour outreach service or SENDIAS team will be able to provide useful techniques for you to use, for instance:
- Give positive rather than negative feedback (eg speak quietly, not don’t shout)
- Don’t assume they are being ‘naughty’ (eg your child might be scared)
- Ensure their key needs are met (all children can be tetchy when hungry etc)
- Remember to reward and praise good behaviour
- Be patient, persistent and calm, even if you feel far from it
- Ask for help when you need it
- Ensure people understand why your child is displaying this behaviour
- Keep your instructions clear and short (eg use visuals to demonstrate what you’ll be doing)
- Plan well (eg ring a venue in advance)
- Be consistent and avoid shouting
- Take time out for yourself (eg sport, reading)