Divorce can be hard on children. It can be even harder, though, on those children who have special needs. Divorce and separation are a huge interruption to the way they’ve lived their lives and they may not have the tools to cope on their own. Below are just a few ways that you might be able to help your child out.
Try to Stick to Routines
Most children with special needs thrive on routines. Even if you cannot keep your normal routine because of a change in your housing situation, striving for some degree of consistency is a must. Try to keep bedtimes, meal rituals, and daily activities going in a way that’s similar to what happened before. While nothing’s quite the same as it was, you can provide your child with some sense of normalcy.
Reduce the Emotional Stress
Reducing the emotional stress around your child is usually a good idea. For most, this means working with a good legal separation attorney and keeping all of the legal interactions between spouses solely in the legal realm. While you certainly can’t expect to totally shield your child from everything that’s going on, you can take steps to ensure that he or she isn’t exposed to unnecessary emotional stress.
Don’t go too far in trying to make your child comfortable during the divorce. Suddenly introducing new things can actually have severe effects, so try to keep things as normal as possible. Don’t try to ‘fix’ your child’s emotions with grand gestures or with overly elaborate treats—this will only further confuse your child and make the situation more difficult.
Seek Out Help
Finally, it might be reasonable to seek out professional help in this situation. Finding a counselor who works with special needs children can be useful, especially if he or she also has a background in family therapy. This professional can help to give you individualized guidance that will help your child to more easily adapt to the new situation.
While you cannot make a divorce or separation easy on your child, you can take steps to minimize how uncomfortable he or she will be. You will still have to deal with changes and emotional issues, but you can blunt their impact to some degree. In time, you’ll be able to find a new normal that will let your family move on and find a measure of peace as you adapt.