Parenting Exceptional Children: Self-Advocacy Starts Early

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I like to think of the “3 P’s” as my personal motto and that I’m the creator of my own destiny; or at least my child’s, as the case may be. Right now, I set my own plan to make life easier for me, but in the long run, I hope to make it easier for my child.

Some parents rationalize that raising an exceptional child is just business. There is one idea which stands out; teaching parents and/or children to be proactive, plan goals and practice independent skills, which encourages positive emotions and, in-turn, leads to self-advocacy.

(Be) Proactive

Parents who take the initiative to contact various educational and medical resources have the ability to make informed decisions because they seek well-rounded information. Families might ask questions, experiment with an assortment of learning techniques, and research different physical therapies in order to gain knowledge about the disability and academic processes.

Parents understand how to handle their child and out of necessity, are able to identify challenges and make them work.

It's important to take charge and never stop finding better ways to increase a child's education and productivity. Managing a child’s behavior, education or life plan should not be delegated. Take control now for optimum results later.  


Setting goals is not only important for children with special needs, but also for parents of children with special needs. The trick is to set measurable and attainable objectives. Parents who set a detailed strategic plan might find less stress while managing their child’s goals. Whether these goals are educational or independent, parents should think about where they see their child in six months, one year, five years, 10 years and even beyond that.

Parents needing to take “baby steps” would do well by understanding what is reasonable versus what is implausible. For example, if a six-month goal for your child is to be able to put his or her own clothes on, the child would need these motor skills in order to be successful. The beauty of setting a plan is that parents can tweak it, change it, or repeat it at anytime they desire.

Having a plan is a great way to negotiate positive behaviors and independence, which in my opinion, is what most parents want for their little one.  


Something as simple as learning how to tie a shoe (even using Velcro straps) or putting on a coat does not come easily. If we expect our children to become independent young adults, we must practice the needed skills now. I feel confident saying that many parents of exceptional children realize it takes years, in many circumstances, for children to find success with simple tasks.

Above all, any task your little one masters is personalized; he or she owns it. Once a skill is taught and learned, the child should continue to handle it alone with simple verbal commands. Here is the really, really, tricky part  children must practice every learned skill every single day. They can do it.

Our days are so hectic that sometimes it is easier to just do it ourselves. We are all guilty of this in some way, but this is where setting a plan and being proactive could be helpful.   


While there are many children who are not able to manage their care independently, there might be avenues parents can take to teach these children how to ask for help. The main thing for exceptional children is to learn self-advocacy. Children love to be successful, and many are encouraged by exerting independence. Positive attitudes raise positive children.

C.C. Malloy lives in Greensboro and is a steadfast supporter of children with disabilities. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal’s Exceptional Blooms.


Categories: A ‘Special’ World, Parenting, Solutions, Special Needs