How to Help Your Special Needs Child Develop Better Coping Skills

Parents of special needs children have to learn many different coping skills, and they also need to help their child develop better coping mechanisms. Physical therapy can be an integral part of developing these coping skills, and your work with the physical therapist can be just as beneficial for you as it is for your special needs child. Today’s blog will cover some of the best ways to help your child develop better coping skills. You can also contact our physical therapy team for specialized help today.

Use Customized Responses for Triggers

Many special needs children who are in a physical therapy program have triggering situations or activities. When these triggers happen, your child may suddenly exhibit out-of-control behavior or other problematic behavior. Fortunately, you can often avoid these meltdowns by knowing the triggers. Your physical therapist may be able to help you identify triggers if you’re having trouble doing so.

Make a list of exactly what’s going on around your child when they have behavior problems. If you do this for several weeks, you’ll probably notice patterns. For example, maybe your child tends to have the worst behavior problems when they leave school for physical therapy. This is very common, and many special needs kids have trouble with transitions. In this type of situation, you can combat the problem by adding a window of downtime.

Help your child to calm themselves in this between-activity downtime using physical therapy techniques and skills. This can include deep breathing, reading a story for distraction, or simply talking about the upcoming activity. Talk to your physical therapist about your child’s specific triggers to find customized solutions for both of you.

Identify Calming Activities — and Use Them as Needed

Make a short list of your child’s favorite activities. What are the activities that seem to smooth the rough edges and soothe tempers even when they’re agitated? Next time your child feels stressed or even out of control, remind them that they can make themselves feel better. Suggest one of the calming activities and give them support with that activity if needed.

Your physical therapist can help you identify a list of activities that are both calming and healthy for your child. Try to have access to at least one of these activities whenever you’re away from home. For example, if your child colors to calm down, make sure that you always have coloring supplies with you. It may help you avoid some major meltdowns.

Remind Your Child That Help Is Available

Many special needs children struggle with physical activity — or even with the mere thought of physical activity. This might cause enough anxiety that it seems like a huge and scary problem for your child. If they express fear, worry, or anger about not being able to do certain physical activities as well as they’d like, remind your child that help is available from the physical therapist.

You can tell your child, “Let’s talk about what you learned in your last physical therapy session.” This helps your child remember their progress and it helps them cope when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Remind your child that they grow stronger and more capable with each visit to their physical therapist, too. It can turn the situation from scary to hopeful very quickly.

Looking for an expert physical therapy provider for your special needs child? We want to help. Contact us anytime to schedule your visit!