Top Takeaways

Work With Dads

Top Takeaways

  • With one in five U.S. households having a child with special needs, most fatherhood programs can expect to enroll at least some fathers who face the associated challenges.
  • Fathers and mothers of children with special needs have many of the same needs and concerns; however, there can be significant differences in how they respond to their child’s condition, what they do to cope, and what they find helpful.
  • Fathers of children with special needs often experience loneliness and isolation, hunter-provider anxiety, strained marital relationships, or feelings of inadequacy.
  • Parents of children with special needs often experience grief as they struggle to adapt to their situation. With support, most navigate what can ultimately be a rewarding journey of resilience.
  • Fathers can understand they are not alone if they have opportunities to connect with other fathers and exchange ideas at scheduled social events.
  • Men can recognize that even if they cannot fix the problem or disability, they can take action to improve their child’s outcomes.
  • Fathers want information about their child’s condition and development, what can be done to help, and what services are available to help their child and the family as a whole.
  • Couples who have children with disabilities often report low marriage satisfaction. Couples counseling or workshops on communication skills may help mothers and fathers strengthen their bond.
  • Fatherhood programs, particularly those that work with fathers of infants and young children, should address early intervention and discussion of special needs.