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Stress Management for parents of a child with disabilities and/or special educational needs is a serious and individual problem

Stress Management for parents of a child with disabilities and/or special educational needs is a serious and individual problem

It is Serious as we will all have a lot of stress put upon us and if we don’t deal with it the potential results are anger, despair, chronic health problems, mental health issues and more. Any one of the named can be extremely damaging to you and your life and when combined can be devastating and in some cases irreversible. We have to deal with STRESS NOW.

It is an individual problem as we all deal with stress in different ways and it depends how you process stress in the first place with the many different points of stress we all have. We are all different and we deal with things differently, so how do we deal with stress. Only we as individuals know what works best for us but it is always good to share your concerns as when we are listened to, just knowing someone has listened is a weight of our shoulders.

Successful Stress Management:

  1. Understanding how your brain responds to stress.
  2. Deciding to actively reduce your stress
  3. Identifying your specific causes of stress
  4. Learning how to prevent stress and how to respond when you feel stressed


  1. Understanding how your brain responds to stress – Here are four ways stress changes your brain.
  • Stress could trigger a chemical change that makes you irritable

Many of us know that we’re not pleasant to be around when we’re stressed out — we may get irritable and grumpy. Under pressure, many people get distracted and forgetful and this could be a sign of the destructive effects of stress in the brain.

French researchers discovered an enzyme, when triggered by stress that attacks a molecule in the hippocampus which is responsible for regulating synapses. When the synapses are modified, fewer neural connections are able to be made in the area.

“These effects lead subjects to lose their sociability, avoid interactions with their peers and have impaired memory or understanding,” a university press release explained.

  • Chronic stress can shrink your brain

Stressful life events could harm your brain’s memory and learning capacity by reducing the volume of grey matter in brain regions associated with emotions, self-control and physiological functions.

Chronic stress and/or depression can contribute to lost volume in the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with emotional and cognitive impairment. Researchers found that this is particularly true of people with a genetic marker that can disrupt the formation of synaptic connections between brain cells.

A 2008 study on mice found that even short-term stress could lead to communication problems among brain cells in regions associated with memory and learning.


  • One stressful event can kill brain cells

As we learn new information, we constantly generate new neurons in the hippocampus — a brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion. But ongoing stress can halt the production of new neurons in the hippocampus and may also affect the speed of connections between hippocampal cells, according to Scientific American. What’s more, an animal study found that a single stressful event can destroy newly created neurons in the hippocampus.

University of California at Berkeley researchers found that the brain in a state of chronic stress generates more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons than a typical brain would, resulting in excess myelin (an insulating layer of protective coating around neurons) in the hippocampus.

“The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to ongoing emotional distress, because of the damaging effects of cortisol,” psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote in Social Intelligence.

  • Stress can disrupt memory by triggering the brain’s threat response

While cortisol hampers the activity of the hippocampus, it increases the size and activity of the amygdala, the brain’s main centre for emotional responses and motivation. The amygdala is responsible for fear processing, threat perception and the fight-or-flight response. Increased activity means we’re in a state of reacting to perceived threat, which can have the effect of restricting our ability to take in new information. It can also heighten emotional reactions.

“After a day when a student gets panicked by a pop quiz, he’ll remember the details of that panic far more than any of the material in the quiz,” Goleman wrote.

But take comfort. You can learn how to prevent severe reactions and how to calm yourself if you do react severely. Understanding how your brain works is the first step.


  1. Deciding to actively reduce your stress
  • This is Step 2. It will take some effort and time (potential stressors) so unless you decide to reduce stress actively you probably will not.
    Actively means that you work at it until you are successful.
  • You have taken Step 2 when you make the decision.
  • Go to Step 3.


  1. Identifying your specific causes of stress
  • Mindfully look at your day.
  • Stop doing everything else and honestly look inside yourself.
  • What do you do that you don’t like doing?
  • What does your child do that pushes your buttons, or worse?
  • What fears, doubts, or anxieties do you carry around with you?
  • What events, people, agencies, rules, etc. outside your home rattle you?
  • Write down your actual and potential stressors. (Don’t be afraid of looking at them all. Some you can knock off quickly and doing so will make dealing with others easier. But all of them can be attended to in one way or another.)



  1. Learn how to prevent stress and how to respond when you feel stressed
  • Prevention (there is a lot you can do)
  • Be self-compassionate. Parenting a typical child is one the most challenging professions on earth. Parenting an atypical child increases the challenges beyond what you imagine you are capable of handling. Give yourself a giant break. Acknowledge to yourself (and to significant others) all that you are doing. And then reward yourself. Even if the reward is nothing more than saying to yourself: “You got his teeth brushed. Good work.”
  • Cultivate optimism. Accentuate the positive; decentuate the negative. Glass half-full; not half-empty. Begin to talk to yourself like this: “Life may not be perfect, but I am doing what I can to make it good. Sometimes I am successful; sometimes I’m not. But I’ll keep trying.” (Here’s a big one:) There are no mistakes; only learning opportunities. Optimism is contagious; the more you express it, the more you see of it in yourself and in others.
  • Take care of your physical and mental health. 

Make sleep a priority. Nap when possible (every little helps)

Eat Healthy Cooked Food

Vitamin supplements (especially C and B complex)



Build a support group for yourself.

Meet a parent with a child like yours. Go to our Forum Page and speak to other DADS you may be pleasantly surprised just how not alone you are. Support each other.

Ask family and very close friends for help. Be very specific about what they can do for you (go to the pharmacy, pick up a sibling at soccer, etc.).

Learn to try to find a positive from a negative

Explore Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy – for more info try the following website for your guide to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Learn to intentionally shift your perspective and to notice your feelings without reacting to them. Distract yourself.

  • How to respond when you feel stressed
    • Name your stressor when it hits you. Say to yourself or someone nearby: “Samuel is chewing on his hand and is bleeding.” Naming your stressor gives you a bit of distance from it.
    • From a list of positive self-talk statements (that you have prepared before stress hits) select one and say it to yourself. E.g., “It crushes me to see Samuel mutilating himself, but right now he can’t help it. My job is to stop him and bandage his thumb. That is how I can help him now.”
    • Stay focused on what is essential in the moment. Decide if there is anything you can actually do right now to relieve the stress. If so, do it. If not, tell yourself that the stressor needs attention which you will give it when you can. Worries about finances, the meaning of test results, the outcomes of scheduled meetings with professionals, (future event stressors) can be responded to this way.
    • When the crisis has passed (and Samuel is bandaged and playing on his iPad) your feelings of stress may linger. Now is the time for an herbal tea (coffee, chocolate, your choice) break. Relax your body from the tension of stress.
  • Empower yourself in the moment. Faced with stress, tell yourself: “Here it is again. I am in charge of my thoughts and feelings. I am capable of dealing with whatever comes my way. I will come out on top of this one, too.”

Stress Management is multi-billion dollar market (therapy, medications, supplements, advice, attending medical needs). My “prescription” above is only meant to let you know that you can manage your stress.

Contact Us  if you would like assistance designing a personalised stress management plan of action



Not all of the above advice will works for all, please read and take what suits you and your lives. If anyone knows of any techniques and information that has helped them and may help others please emails us on” 

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