Editorial: Why do we let parents of babies and young children with disabilities get so stressed and exhausted?
Well, first of all it has to be said that people who provide services to families are not in control of what parents do or do not do.
So there are limits to what they can do to help. But here are some relevant questions:
· When do long-term anxiety, stress and exhaustion develop into a state of increasing mental ill-health?
· What nightmares and dark thoughts arise – and are kept secret?
· What is the impact on bonds of attachment between child, parents and other family members?
· How can healthy family and friend relationships survive?
· What is the quality of life for child and family?
I want to argue that families and service providers should not accept that stress and exhaustion are inevitable. First of all, there need to be awareness that for very many families with a baby or young child with disabilities, there is a mental / psychological / emotional health component. And that this must be addressed by both parents and service providers.
I want to argue that professionals with mental health training and expertise should enter into working relationships with professionals in the childhood disability field. There is wisdom, knowledge and experience to be shared for the benefit of disabled young children and families.
As awareness grows, there can be fruitful discussions between professionals and parents about reducing stress and exhaustion. It will no longer be a problem families have to suffer in silence. Some families will become more resilient and better equipped to tackle challenges that will come along in the future. Some families will survive intact instead of falling apart.
These issues are addressed in the book, Early Childhood Intervention without Tears: Improved support for infants with disabilities and their families.
And in the Seminar series: Helping parents of disabled young children be less stressed and exhausted. ECI seminars in Birmingham, Oxford, Bristol, Liverpool and Wakefield UK
This seminar can come to your locality or it can be in-house at your workplace.
Cartoon from TAC Bulletin issue 202