Does your child have more than one disability?
If so, you are not alone. Many Canadian children have combined, or multiple, disabilities. The possible disability combinations in youths are endless. What disabilities does your child have?
How has having multiple disabilities affected your child’s (and your) life dreams and goals?
Dealing with numerous disabilities can put a major damper on a child’s life dreams. It can also detour parents’ ideals for their child. For example, a child with a mobility-related disability who wants to be a ballerina will have trouble traditionally fulfilling that dream.
But does having multiple disabilities automatically exclude children from living their ideal life? Not according to Susan Beayni. Susan is “on a mission to rekindle the dreams families hold for their children with complex disabilities.” How is she accomplishing her mission?
Susan is accomplishing her mission of rekindling dreams by changing the mindsets of parents who have a child with multiple disabilities.
According to Susan, parents of disabled children must remember that their child has talents and gifts. Their focus must be fixed on what a child is able to do, not on what the child cannot do.
“The most exciting part of family networking is a paradigm shift in the parent’s thinking from ‘society considers my son or daughter a burden — I’ll be lucky if I can get someone to take care of their basic needs,’ to ‘my goodness, my son or daughter has a gift to share,’” Susan says. “It’s not just that I want them to have a good quality of life, it’s that society needs the gift of my son or daughter.”
Youths with multiple disabilities can realize their life dreams, but seeing those dreams fulfilled will take creativity and courage.
Can youths with disabilities realistically expect to be anything they want? Yes. How is this possible? By adapting the youth’s dream to his or her disability and environment. In order to adapt a child’s dream to his or her disability, you must “think outside the box.”
Let’s say your child wants to be a classical ballet dancer but has a mobility-related disability. What can be done instead of discarding that idea? Susan Beayni says, “What aspect (of the dream) is important to the child and how can we meet that dream in a different way?”
Susan goes on to explain that a child’s dream can typically be “pieced together” by using various resources to make it a reality.
Susan reports that her daughter, Rebecca, a 22 year old with Cerebral Palsy, a speech-related disability, and an intellectual disability, is living a full, inspired life. In what ways? Rebecca dances in a liturgical dance group, is a grade one classroom volunteer, and is a United Nations advocate for individuals with disabilities.
Susan and her daughter are living proof that these paradigm shifts work, both for parents as well as youths with combined disabilities.
What is your child’s life dream? What is your dream for your child’s life?
What are your child’s gifts and talents? How (and where) could those talents best be put to use? In what ways can you currently encourage your child’s aspirations? Please leave us a comment — we would love to hear from you.
*Please note: All research for this article is compiled from direct and third party sources. Mention of programs, organizations and companies does not imply support of The National Benefit Authority. Pictures are for creative purposes only; they are not intended to sell or promote products for the NBA and belong to the accredited individual, organization or company.
Let’s Talk About It
In what practical ways does having a child with multiple disabilities discourage going after goals and ideals?
Is it important for all youths, those with disabilities and those without disabilities, to have opportunities to achieve their dreams? Why or why not?