For this week’s ‘5 Things’ post, I welcome Sunnyfield, a member-based, not-for-profit charity committed to enriching the lives of people with intellectual disability. Sunnyfield provides accommodation services, assistance with daily life, social and community participation, skill development, supported employment, clinical services and support coordination. I’m really pleased to have them on the blog today, sharing 5 resources for parents of kids with intellectual disabilities.
It is no secret that raising a child requires hard work. Raising a child with intellectual disabilities can include a number of additional challenges that you might not be ready for at first. That doesn’t mean that you can’t successfully tackle these, and enjoy a fulfilling family life full of love and compassion.
Whatever your circumstances, the important thing to know is that there are many organisations and services available across Australia and worldwide to support you and your child along this journey. From useful online resources to financial aid, here are five things that can offer invaluable support to you and your child.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
This is a scheme ran by the Federal Government in Australia which was created to support individuals living with disabilities. It is also designed to assist their families and carers.
The NDIS provides financial support to help fund any reasonable and necessary support. This can include health, education, public housing and aged care. It also aims to support other functions, such as sports clubs, community groups, libraries and charities.
As well as providing much needed financial support, the NDIS also proactively works with young children with disabilities with the aim of helping them develop the necessary skills to lead a full and healthy life.
For more information on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, head to their website. It’s also worth noting that getting financial support or assistance from the NDIS will have no impact on income support schemes such as Carers Allowance or Disability Support Pension.
Other Australian Government Resources
Apart from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Australian Government has many other useful resources that could help you support your child.
For example, the Carer Gateway is a website specifically for carers. It has a lot of useful information about caring for someone with an intellectual disability including your financial rights as a caregiver.
The Department of Education and Training also has a great deal of information about your child’s educational rights, as well as resources for personalised learning.
With so much information available online today, it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s credible and what isn’t. Any official Government resource is a great place to start as it will be thoroughly researched and will often provide you with links to other useful and credible resources.
Aside from the Government, there are many other organisations across Australia that have useful online resources. National Disability Services, Disability Online and the Intellectual Disability Rights Service are all credible sources with plenty of literature and information that could help you and your family understand the disability, your rights and your roles as caregivers.
Knowing your rights and getting access to funding is fantastic, but local organisations can offer you some much needed additional support. Whether it’s finding a local caregiver support group where you can talk through your frustrations, or a supported employment scheme for a young adult with intellectual disabilities, getting some hands-on outside support can be invaluable. It will also give you and your family a chance to meet people in similar situations which can sometimes offer a great deal of practical and emotional support.
Many organisations across Australia are trained to work with children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These organisations can help provide assistance with daily life, supported employment, social and community participation, accommodation services, clinical services and support coordination. Some of these organisations will also be able to help you navigate, understand and allocate your NDIS funding so that you can spend the funding on whatever works best for your child.
Remember to look after yourself
As a parent, it is completely natural to put your children first. And of course, you want to do everything within your power to help your child, especially if they need that extra care and attention. But it is also extremely important to remember that you too need a bit of TLC every now and again. You could give your child all the love and support in the world, but if you burn out or get overwhelmed, you won’t be able to keep supporting them in the long term. In that regard, caring for your children is a little bit like wearing an oxygen mask on a plane. If you don’t look after yourself, you ultimately won’t be able to look after anyone else.
So, if you’re raising a child with an intellectual disability, remember to allow yourself as much love and support as you are giving your child. As you’ve read in this article, there are many resources and organisations out there that can help ease the load so don’t be afraid to ask for help and to give yourself a break once in a while.
Sunnyfield is a member-based, not-for-profit charity committed to enriching the lives of people with intellectual disability. Sunnyfield provides accommodation services, assistance with daily life, social and community participation, skill development, supported employment, clinical services and support coordination. For over 64 years Sunnyfield has provided trusted, flexible support services for people with intellectual disability from early childhood through adulthood. Sunnyfield’s philosophy of person-centred active support places people at the centre, supporting and developing skills for life that facilitate greater opportunities. The focus is on learning about and acting upon the choices and then supporting the person to be actively engaged in their life choice and develop their unique skills, interests and abilities.
You can also find Sunnyfield on these platforms:
This post is part of our ongoing series “5 Things Special Needs Parents Should Know”. If you’d like to submit a guest post, or if you have a topic you’d like covered as part of this series, send your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org