Skip to main content

We use small files called cookies to help us improve your experience on this website and to provide services like web chat. We also use cookies to measure the effectiveness of public health campaigns and understand how people use the website.

Read our cookies policy to find out more about cookies and how we use them.

If you have just found out your child has a disability

When parents and other family members find out that their child has a disability, it can be a complete shock. Or it may confirm what you have long suspected.

You may feel many strong emotions such as anger, grief, guilt, numbness and denial.

Everyone is different in the way they react and there is no one right way. Just remember your child is the same person and disability is only one part of their life.

Advice from the Special Needs Parents Association

The Special Needs Parents Association is a national parent-run organisation which provides support and information for families who have children with disabilities and special needs in Ireland regardless of age or diagnosis.

Here is their advice for parents who have just received a diagnosis for their child:

  • Do not isolate yourself from the world.
  • Do not under any circumstances blame yourself for your child’s condition - this is not your fault.
  • Take each day as it comes, it is similar to a roller-coaster you will have highs and lows, but share them no matter how small you think they are.
  • Do not Google until ready and even then, read everything with caution - the information may be unreliable or may not apply to your child.
  • Seek information from others when you are ready, you can do it anonymously or online if you are not ready to talk.
  • If you feel angry, that’s okay but do try to talk to someone.
  • Go and see a counsellor if you find that you are not coping - depression is something that can creep up and we are always the last to recognise symptoms and take care of ourselves.
  • If your child is attending a children’s disability services centre you may meet a social worker - they are there to help you and your child.
  • Try not to compare yourself to other people - you will deal with this news your own unique way.

Parent stories

Some parents get great comfort from articles and blogs written by other parents. You can read stories by parents on the Special Needs Parents Association website.

If you have recently found out about your child’s disability or developmental delay you may find the Informing Families website helpful.


Related topic

Children's disability services

page last reviewed: 10/05/2019
next review due: 10/05/2022