This post originally appeared on Firefly.
My mum has always said that nobody should ever have a first baby. Much better to start with a second when you have all the relevant experience.
In a similar spirit of helpful but impossible advice I offer you a planning schedule recommended to be in place before giving birth to a child with Additional Needs.
You are most welcome.
Do not have a prior history of depression, or any health needs physical or mental of your own.
You won’t have time for them. No professionals will ever think of asking after your health, so really there’s no point.
Knowledge of law or education, preferably to degree level is highly advised. Without these the Local Authority may attempt to tell you that you are not entitled to expensive things, that you really need and actually are.
Career ambition for yourself is not necessary, you will be required to cancel meetings, work days and other plans at the drop of hat to fit in appointments, which mysteriously seem to congregate together within a fortnight. You can of course cancel and rebook, but that risks being labelled a difficult parent. It won’t be written anywhere, but everyone will know you are.
Ambition generally is a dangerous thing, imagining you could go out alone or with a partner is optimistic, on some days going to the toilet alone will be completely beyond your capability. Believing your child deserves a place in society is also problematic. Being prepared to settle for less can lead to reduced emotional stress and, therefore, peace.
An independent income, preferably from a Trust Fund or inherited wealth will make your life easier and less of a drain on the state. It also ensures that you don’t have to discuss your family’s difficulties or finances with well-intentioned Charities. Think of the time you could save writing crowd funding requests!
Ensure that you are a very young parent, in peak physical condition and that this is your only child.
Be certain that you are an older parent that cares less and that this is at least your second child.
Be in an extremely stable relationship with a healthy, resourceful and emotionally aware partner.
Be a single parent with an incredibly supportive family and friends, you don’t have time for a relationship anyway.
Ensure your house is on one level with total accessibility to all rooms and hoists. You may not need them now but plan ahead.
Nurture friendships with young, fun but responsible people who can drive, and display a maturity beyond their years, not for themselves, you understand, but they have Personal Assistant potential.
Test your remaining friends by constantly cancelling plans at the last minute and taking weeks to respond to their texts. If they don’t like it, you may as well ditch them now.
This then is my recommendation to you. I myself have opted for the all the gear and no idea approach to special needs parenting. On most days I actually seem like I know what I’m doing, on others-well there’s always cake and cynicism.
To finish I’ll share another gem from the mothership. She has always maintained that no matter how you parent, or what mistakes you make, as long as there is love in your home everything else will smooth itself out. And, in this at least, I think she’s right