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Tips For Raising A Toddler With A Disability

by Lois R. Earles
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4.3% of children in America have a disability, according to the U.S. Census. Caring for a toddler is difficult enough for most parents, but when you’ve got a toddler with a disability, it can be even harder. By following these tips you’re sure to build a great bond with your child and get through the toughest years of your child’s life.

Toilet training

The good news is that some toddlers with disabilities can be toilet trained around the same age as other children. One study found that the average age for children with developmental disabilities to be toilet trained was 2.5 years. This rose to 3.3 years for children with autism.

You will need to approach toilet training in a slightly different way, though, as children with disabilities often don’t communicate their need to go to the toilet. Visual prompts usually work well in this scenario. Keeping a diary of their daily toileting habits for a few days is recommended too as you’ll know when to pop your toddler on the potty or toilet.

Feeding time 

An analysis of multiple studies found that 53% of them showed a link between childhood disabilities and undernutrition. Toddlers with disabilities often have issues eating certain types of food or specific textures. Dysphagia is common in children and affects swallowing. It can be difficult to know whether your child’s dysphagia is part of their disability.

Dysphagia is often associated with cerebral palsy (CP). If you’re not sure whether your child has CP, go through some common cerebral palsy questions to start off your diagnosis. This will help you identify if your child has a CP-related developmental delay. Regardless of your toddler’s disability, make feeding times fun and work to get them to eat more. Many disabled children with feeding problems respond well to positive reinforcement, feeding routines, a change in food temperature, and changing the color of food with food dye.

Socializing with others

By the time a child is 2 years old, they should regularly play with other children. Toddlers with disabilities often find it hard to socialize with others as they can’t always read other children’s’ emotions. They can lack physical and communication skills too.

But don’t let this stop your toddler from making friends. Arrange a playdate with one other child to begin with as you can closely monitor your child and help them with things such as sharing and taking turns. Make sure you stick to a familiar setting with appropriate toys and activities as this will ease your child in.

Raising a toddler with a disability can be a challenging yet joyful experience. Always focus on the positives and make this time of your child’s life as enjoyable as possible.

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