Caring for a child with additional needs brings joys and sometimes challenges. Parents and carers can carry a lot of stress and worry, and often put their own needs at the bottom of the pile.
It is better recognised now that caring for loved ones is an important role and it can be hard at times. The whole family benefit when you look after yourself.
The reasons for your child’s additional needs will vary. How it affects you and your family will vary, and may change over time.
Being advised to look after yourself may feel unrealistic. Sometimes you might be able to manage some time out to recharge with the support of friends and family. Other times you might find just a few moments to breathe deeply.
Families have told us many times that caring for a child with additional needs can at times be a lonely place and trying to find and access services can be a challenge.
Family Voice Norfolk is a parent carer forum which brings families together to improve services for children and young people.
This short animation shows why they believe that people are stronger together and how taking part in planning and decision-making can help to ensure that families get the services they need.
You don’t need to be perfect and you won’t always get things right. Parenting is hard for everyone and you have extra challenges to cope with.
Take Time Out When You Can
Take any moments you can to look out for yourself;
If family and friends are not able to help, or it is not enough - speak up. Talk to the team who support your child’s health / education and tell them how you are feeling. Ask them to look into support for you.
If your child has an additional need they will be offered a ‘yearly contact’ from Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services. Contact us at our service details below for more information.
It is well understood that caring for a child with additional needs is hard. Ask for help when you are struggling rather than carrying on and becoming physically and / or mentally unwell.
Your relationship with your children, partner and friends will all benefit from self care – so don’t let it be an optional extra.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
For adults Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below.