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Support the child of a parent with disability

The child of a parent with disability may require support at various times. Their age, understanding of disability and the type of disability their parent has can all influence what support they need and when. You may find that a child requires support in the following scenarios:

  • A child wants to understand their parent’s disability, and why their parent has certain behaviours or physical traits associated with their disability.
  • A child needs education and support around their wonder or worry as to whether they will also develop the same disability as their parent.
  • A child wants to participate in social activities but feels unable to as they provide a high level of support for their parent with disability.
  • A child wants to meet other children whose parents also have a disability to share stories and develop friendships with children in similar situations. 

Children in care who have limited contact with their parents may have less of an understanding of their parent’s disability and the impact this has on their functioning. The child’s case plan influences how we assist a child to build their understanding and support them to respond to their parent’s disability. 

Practice prompt

Talk with the child’s parent to find out what sort of information they would like to share with their child about their disability and the best way to do this. When engaging with children, give them the time and space to ask questions about their parent’s disability and talk about what it means for them. Even if a child doesn’t have any questions currently, they are likely to want to talk about it in the future.

The organisation COPMI (Children of parents with mental illness) is a great organisation which promotes better outcomes for the children and families where a parent experiences mental illness. 

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