Caring for a disabled child

When it comes to childcare for a disabled child, a lot of the considerations are the same as for any other child. There are a few extra things to think about, such as specialist training or a child’s medical needs. Find out about different types of childcare.

Things to consider

Whatever your child’s age, ability or circumstances, all parents would probably think about these issues:

•What sort of childcare would work best for your family – a childminder, nursery or after-school care?

•Will activities be appropriate for your child’s ability?

•Is the carer/setting safe, friendly and do you think your child will be happy in the environment?

You may also need to think about questions like:

•Does the caretaker have experience in looking after a child with a similar disability, and if not, would they be happy for you to show them what is needed?

•Hhow much specialist care does your child need, and is appropriate training available locally?

•Does your child have therapy or appointments that they need to go to in the time they will be cared for, and can your playgroup, nursery or school take your child to these appointments?

Get the best from childcare

You are the expert on your child. To get the best from childcare:

•Give the caregiver clear and detailed information about your child’s likes and dislikes, needs, medication and appointments

•Take your time and visit the childminder, pre-school/playgroup or nursery – more than once if you want to

•Agree a ‘settling-in’ period where you leave your child for short periods of time until you are comfortable to leave for the entire session

•If you are on the Early Support programme and have a Family File, show this to the caregiver

Another thing to consider

Does the caregiver need specialist training or equipment?

Often caregivers need specific training to give medication.

If you have been shown how to give medication to your child by your doctor, nurse or health visitor, you can ask the same person to give this training to your child’s new caregiver.

Your social worker or area special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) should be able to tell you more.

Family Information Services and early education

Your local Family Information Service has details about the full range of childcare and early education opportunities in your local area. They may also be able to tell you about other specialist services that your child may need because of their disability, such as the Early Support programme.

All children over three years old are entitled to a free part-time place in an early years setting, for example a nursery, before they transfer to full-time school.

If you want full-time daycare, you may be able to pay for extra hours so that you can start or return to work or take a break from your caring responsibilities.

You can find childcare providers in your area online. Just type in your postcode or town to find childminders, crèches, nurseries, out of school care, holiday care and pre-school care local to you.

You sometimes need time for yourself. It’s crucial to your well-being. Lay the guilt aside and take advantage of those willing to help.

For more information on resources in Chicago and surrounding suburbs visit:

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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