Therapy for Kids with Physical Disabilities
Does Your Child Feel “Different” Because Of Their Physical Disability?
It’s late at night and your child is telling you again they don’t understand why they have to be “different” from other kids at their school. You wish you could wave a magic wand over them and erase all their struggles, but you know that is not possible. Maybe your youngster is sight-impaired or needs to use crutches, a walker or a chair to get around due to mobility difficulties.
Does your child feel left out or have trouble coping with their differences and fitting in with other kids? They may ask: “Why did this have to happen to be me? Why can’t I be normal and active like my friends?” Perhaps they feel invisible to everyone else—never chosen to play sports or other games, unable to participate in fun activities with other kids. Deep down, they may feel like no one understands them.
Those with childhood physical disabilities often need extra assistance in day-to-day life. They usually have to do things differently than others, which makes them feel excluded. They may not be able to enter certain places that aren’t wheelchair-accessible, for instance. Or they may struggle due to a sight-impairment just to play games with kids on the playground. As a result, children who are physically challenged often feel left out and relegated to the sidelines of life. Many adults don’t know how to treat youngsters with disabilities —they may act awkwardly around them or pity them in a way that is condescending and belittling.
Thankfully, even if your child is physically challenged, it’s possible for them to thrive. By learning to cope with their limitations and finding new ways to adapt, your child can lead a happy, successful and fulfilling life. It’s my goal to help them get started.
Kids With Physical Disabilities Can Thrive With Their Differences
Imagine it’s the day before school. Your little one is excited to see all their teachers and friends. They’re fitting in, succeeding academically and able to have fun with other children. Accommodations have been made so that they can participate in daily activities with ease. They have their limitations, but their teachers have provided extra support and their friends understand their struggles.
At the moment, you might tell yourself this kind of life is unreachable, but that’s not true. Many children with physical disabilities can thrive in spite of their differences. Oftentimes, it’s simply a matter of having the right physical and social support. Many kids with physical difficulties don’t have ease of access to certain places in our society. And on a social level, many adults aren’t sure how to act around these children. For example, they may not talk directly to them, always addressing a parent or older sibling, even when the child is there.
Even so, there is more awareness surrounding physically challenged kids now than there has ever been. Ramps and other accommodations to help them get around or deal with other difficulties have become far more common. There are more social supports for them nowadays, both in and out of schools.
With the added support of therapy, children with physical disabilities can adapt to life’s challenges and bolster their confidence for years to come.
Counseling Is A Time For Youngsters With Physical Challenges To Explore Their Hopes And Dreams
As someone with a physical disability, I know firsthand what it’s like to feel different from everyone else. What children with physical challenges need most, however, is a place to be accepted for their differences, not pitied. They don’t want people to pretend their differences don’t exist, but they also don’t want people treating them like they’re “special.”
In our sessions, children have a space to be themselves, vent their frustrations and discuss their hopes and dreams without any condescension or superficial pity. And therapy with me is far from just talking- in sessions children can play with toys, games, puppets and art materials.
At the beginning of the intake process, I will sit down with you and discuss your child’s situation. Together, we will draw up a plan for addressing their needs. If they require an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), we can collaborate with the school to create one. Essentially, the IEP will help them get the extra support they need at school, where it’s having an accessible environment, having someone to help them during the day, or being able to complete assignments using individual modifications.
During subsequent sessions with your child, I will help them explore how they feel about themselves and normalize the self-doubt they experience. With my guidance, they will learn that it’s okay to talk about their disability and that they don’t have to hold back any of their feelings. Most importantly, however, they will learn to adapt to the challenges they face. I will help them explore what they can and can’t do and learn what adjustments are needed in their life. Some of this exploration can be done through play therapy, where we may use toys and games to creatively imagine scenarios that mirror real life.
In the meantime, you will play an integral role in your child’s adapting process. I will give you the tools and resources to help them manage their emotions and improve their self-esteem when I’m not there. Beyond that, my goal is to help you remind them of their strengths and skills. Your child may need physical assistance, but they don’t need to be treated with kid gloves—they can be resilient, courageous and talented on their own. By focusing on what they do well, we can empower them to move into the future with confidence in their own unique identity.
Kids with physical differences can thrive, be happy and lead a fun, active life. Their differences don’t have to hold them back. They, too, can fulfill their hopes and dreams. Through my intervention and your support, we can help your child thrive with their difficulties.
You may have some questions about counseling for children with physical disabilities…
Will You Understand What My Child Is Going Through?
Living with Cerebral Palsy, I can assure you that I understand the struggle of coping with a disability all too well. My experience has given me a great deal of empathy, which is one of the reasons I pursued counseling in the first place. While no one’s experience is exactly the same as someone else’s, I have probably dealt with some of the same challenges and fears your child has.
What Is Play Therapy And How Will My Child Participate In It?
Play Therapy is based on the idea that children benefit most from counseling that fosters their love of play. In counseling, there is something for everyone—dolls, board games, kinetic sand, Play-Doh and Legos. For kids with physical differences, I provide numerous accommodations for them to have fun in counseling.
Will Going To Therapy Make My Child Feel More Different?
Going to counseling is a time for your child to realize they’re not alone and other people have challenges just like theirs. What’s more, they’ll be in therapy with someone who has a disability and can relate to their struggles on a deeper level. In the end, I am confident that they will find it an eye-opening, rewarding process and will feel less different as a result.
Help Your Child Find Strength In Their Own Unique Identity
If your child is tired of feeling different, pitied and left out, I would be honored to help. Working together, you and I can help them overcome their fears and find creative ways to succeed in life. To get started, you can fill out the contact form or call me at 631-289-8765 for a free 20-minute phone consultation or fill out the contact form.
Right now, due to COVID-19, all counseling services for children with physical disabilities are online. The platform I utilize is secure, free and HIPAA-compliant. See my online counseling page for kids for more information.