Tiffani Borders is the mother of 5, in which 3 of her children are consider special needs. She is the CEO of Uplifting Ability, a company dedicated to helping moms managing the day to day care of their special needs child through medical record organization. She is the founder of Mommy UpliftHER United, a platform where moms can connect to share, learn and uplift one another.

5 Tips to Boost Your Special Needs Child Independence
Posted On: May 28, 2021

Having an independent special needs child is something that many moms often think about. One main worry is whether our child will be accepted by others or not. As mom, we must make decisions that will help our special needs child grow to their full potential. Most of the time, we are the ones who put limitations on our child which causes them to feel like they are not like other children. This blog is for the mom who has a child who CAN help themselves but for whatever reason is not allowing their child to exercise independence. 

Some time ago, I decided to make some changes with how I catered to my daughter’s needs. I simply allowed her to be a child; setting aside her diagnosis and the textbook abilities. Just like any other typical person, new skills have to be learned. I took her on a journey of learning how to do things her why and in her own right. Seeing the changes in her is mind-blowing. She is a shining star and a very confident young lady. Below is 5 changes I made with either myself or my daughter to help improve her independence. Now I want to help you.


Tip 1 – Teach Independence


If your child has the ability, allow them to help themselves. It is so easy as a mom to over cater to our special needs child. Making them do the things that they can do and ask for the things that they need, will help them when they are not in your care. Remember mom, you will not always be around. Your child needs to know how to function when you are not there.

I teach my daughter to use her voice to ask for what she wants or needs. I teach her to speak up for herself and to not sit and wait for someone else to do things for her. There was a time when simply put I catered to her every whim. I did everything for her based on what I thought she may need or want at the moment. Big mistake! She got accustomed to being waited on and started to get very lazy.

Find those things that your child has the ability to handle on their own and simply let them do it. Will they complete a task the same way as you? NO! Will they complete a task like another child? NO! They will complete the task the way they know best. You are there to guide and support them.


Tip 2 – Let your child be GREAT


Allow your special needs child to be who they are. Some of us already have children that are outgoing and bold. Embrace It!

My daughter enters a room and completely takes it over. By the time we leave, she would have met several people and know some interesting facts about them. I allow her to work the room and just be her. She is a true people person!

If you are not careful, some of your decisions to hold your child back can really change their minds. Our children have a natural makeup of themselves and sometimes we tend to hold them back from being who they really are all because of how we feel. We let our fear and anxiety of what others may think to get in the way of our child’s ability to function. What that could do later is make them feel like there’s something wrong with them being outgoing and bold. The last thing you want to do is keep them in a bubble where they don’t belong.


Tip 3 – Minimize Screen Time


Get them away from the screens! Too much screen time has been noted to drastically reduce social skills and is linked to poor communication skills. The last thing we want to do is allow televisions, tablets, and computers to cause our child’s social development to be delayed or nonexistent.

I only allow my daughter to have up to 1 hour of tablet and computer screen time per day. Some days we have a blackout and I won’t even let her on a device. It was a struggle at first but now we have an understanding.

It is so easy to allow our children to sit in front of a screen for hours on in especially with all the apps that are available today. We much stand strong and remember why it is important to create limits.


Tip 4 – Peer Interaction


Playing with other children is so important for our child’s development. Allowing our child to interact with other children is sometimes hard for us as a mom because we are overly concerned about how that other child will act towards our kiddo. I’m here to tell you, kids are simply curious. They stop, look and even ask questions. When you answer the questions, they are ready to play and not because knowing was the only avenue into the play session but because they were simply curious.

When my daughter attended our city park and recreation for the after-school program, she is the only child there in a wheelchair. The other kiddos welcomed her in with open arms. On her first day, the kids asked why she was in a wheelchair. We told them and the rest is history.

I know it sounds a little overly intrusive to have to explain your child’s situation. Look at it this way, you are helping a typical child learn something about a special need that they had no idea about.  You are also helping your child learn to better handle those types of situations and to advocate for themself.


Tip 5 – Extra-curricular Activities


It is so important to allow your child to be involved in extra-curricular activities. This is a great way for them to have that peer-to-peer interaction that we spoke about in tip 4. It’s unfortunate that many times our children are sent to the sideline because others are not sure how they would be able to play a traditional sport. That is where you intervene and work with the leaders of the team to come up with a plan of action.

My daughter is in a few sports programs that are great with adaptive sports with our county parks. They know how to create inclusion and accessibility.

Check out some resources in your city to see about entering your kiddo in adaptive sports.


Thank you for stopping by momma!

Remember you are enough and you are doing the BEST you can.

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