Emotions that a parent may go through
When a parent discovers that their child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), they will go through a range of emotions. There is nothing right or wrong with the emotions and they are not even in their control. But if a parent knows that it is normal to go through a range of emotions and try to understand the emotions, it will help them.
The first reaction a parent goes through on discovery of their SEN child is denial. They would think the diagnosis may be wrong. They may go to two or three other professional to get a second/third opinion. It is important for the parent to realise that they( the parents ) are not responsible for the condition of their child. Even today Science is grappling to find the cause of why some children turn out to be SEN children. So the question, “How can it happen to my child” does not have an answer and it is the wrong question to ask. It can happen to anyone’s children.
Some of the emotions that a parent goes though are: anxiety, sadness, anger, fear, guilt, surprise, relief and of course hope.
Anxiety or Fear is an emotion that comes when one is looking at an unknown future. The parent does not know that the future holds for the child and for themselves. Uncertainty brings in anxiety and fear.
Sadness comes from a sense of loss. They look at the children and realise that the child is going to struggle through life and it makes them feel sad. The sense that it is not going to be normal childhood leaves the parents despondent.
Anger comes from a sense of violation. They feel Life/God has cheated them. They did not deserve this. The child did not deserve this. The thought of “Why me?” could trigger a sense of anger.
Guilt comes from thinking that they are somehow responsible for the way their child is. That they could ‘somehow’ have prevented it from happening. Blaming themselves, their past ‘karma’ can also brings in guilt.
Surprise is an emotion most common amongst parents when their child is diagnosed as a Special Child. They had vaguely heard about Special Children, occasionally seen them somewhere but never expected it to happen in their family.
Many parent puzzled by the behaviour of their children find a sense of relief when they take their child to a professional and the professional diagnoses the child as a special child after a battery of tests. Knowing the ‘cause’ of their child’s behaviour by the label of the disorder brings a sense of relief to the parents.
Hope comes from knowing that the symptoms can be mitigated. Something can be done about the child’s condition. When the doctors or the professionals lay out the course of action that can be taken and the possible positive outcomes are explained, hope begins to take shape in the minds of the parents.
A parent may go through all the above listed emotions or some of them. All emotions are natural and there is nothing good or bad about them. In fact the emotions arise spontaneously and the parents have no control over it. What they have control though is the behaviour that follows the emotions. In case the parents find themselves unable to manage their emotions (often it can overwhelm them) then they should seek professional help.