Children with Disabilities 


Finding out that your child is differently able is one of the most shattering things that can happen to parents. It may happen at birth, after an illness or accident or you may find out something is wrong as your child develops. You may go through many of the emotions people feel after a major, sudden loss. You may feel grief at the loss of dreams for your child's future and worry about their quality of life. 

There are big changes for parents and families to make that may cause stress and put pressure on relationships. It will help you and your child if you seek support early from professionals as well as from family and friends. Other parents in the same situation can be helpful too. It's also important to take time to look after yourself. 

Remember that every child has different abilities. Children that are differently able can have a joyful life, bring joy to others and achieve a quality of life.

Quality of life
Quality of life is not about ability. It's about your child having happy times, feeling well, safe and comfortable, feeling pride in the things they can do, and that they are a loveable person. Differently able children can lead positive, happy lives and bring joy to themselves and others.

Your feelings
When you first realise your child is differently able you may feel the grief that many people feel after a loss. This can include shock, disbelief, anger, blame, guilt, sadness, questioning why it happened to you and your child, and panic or fear that you won't be able to cope. 

These feelings can (but may not) come back at times through your child's life as new losses happen; e.g. if your child can't go to the local school, make friends, or become independent. So while you can achieve some healing, it's not just one loss but a loss that may happen over and over. Take time to grieve when you need to. You don't have to manage this alone as there is help available.

How well you cope with your own feelings and your child's ability depends on lots of things:

What sense you are able to make of what has happened to your child (what you tell yourself about it). This can be affected by how well it was explained to you and what the cause was. 


  • Your partner's reactions and how he/she copes 

  • The amount of support you have from family and others 

  • The amount of respite you have 

  • The relationship you build with your child 

  • The quality of life your child has

  • The effect it has on your family life and working life 

  • For some people, support from their religious faith

If you have negative feelings towards your child that won't go away it's important to get help. Remember many parents feel this way at times.

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