Finding the right fit for your special needs child

Avoiding a Day Care Nightmare

My son got kicked out of Day Care today. They say he had a meltdown and started hitting and kicking. Sadly, I know this is likely true. He’s done it at home. He has behavioral problems, most likely associated with his (severe) ADHD.

Finding a day care is hard in any situation. It’s hard to choose who to trust your children to. It’s difficult to balance the need to work with the guilt of someone else caring for your kids. You worry because you don’t know the person, you just know what various websites, references, and your interviews tell you. Sometimes, you aren’t even sure then. Sometimes, life dictates that you are stuck with who you can get.

It’s worse when a child has special needs like he does. Having a special needs child adds extra worries, and requires additional steps, to ensure they can handle his outbursts, his anxieties, or whatever else crops up.

As I’m new to this, I didn’t take all necessary precautions, but I did learn a valuable lesson, and I’m sharing that with you today.

Avoiding the Day Care Nightmare: Steps to take

  1. Acknowledge any special needs.  Make sure that you mention any particular concerns up front.  Things to say include allergies, anxieties, physical or mental limitations, psychological or behavioral problems, and anything from the child’s home life or background that could cause concern, including recent relocations, foster care, divorce, new babies, or changes to the family dynamic.
  2. Discuss the facilities ability to handle these needs.  Even though I had mentioned my son's behavioral problems, and his family history, I did not take the time to ensure that the day care could handle his outbursts.  I found out later that they had never had a special needs child, including one with ADHD or on the autism spectrum.  Not only were they woefully incapable of handling him, but they exasperated the problems.
  3. Advise them on proper techniques.  If there are certain techniques to diffuse his outbursts, ensure that they know them and can do them.
  4. Seek additional help. Some state WIC or health department offices provide assistance, including going to the facility and observing and training the day care workers.
  5. Trust your instincts. If something seems wrong, it probably is.  Watch for key words like “bad,” “naughty,” etc., as well as cues from your child that the facility isn’t a good fit.
  6. Don’t be afraid to say it isn’t working. A Daycare is like a job- your child spends a lot of time there, every week. Sometimes, we adults find ourselves in jobs we aren’t suited for; likewise, the day care may not be a good fit for your child. If he or she isn’t happy, if he is anxious about going or fakes sick, or if you are getting complaints about your child, it is time to move on.
Finding a good day care for a child with special needs is vital to your child’s success there, and his or her happiness.   Open communication and a few extra precautions can help avoid a daycare nightmare.

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