A Fathers Perspective: Dealing With Disability

Clarence Hyman

To mark Carers Week (10th – 14th June), Regional Director, Clarence shares his experience raising children with disabilities.

A Fathers Perspective: Dealing with disability

As it’s Carers Week, I felt compelled to write this article with the aim of supporting parents raising children with disabilities through my own experience. Today, I want to reach out specifically to other fathers and share my experiences of raising my son who lives with hearing loss and ADHD. Let me provide you with some context.

I am a loving father of four children, ranging in age from 3 to 23. Coming from a large family, I thought I knew everything there was to know about raising children. However, when my second child was diagnosed with ADHD and hearing loss our world had been turned upside down. While it’s often our partners who openly discuss the daily challenges of rearing a child with disabilities, it’s crucial that we, as fathers, also find our voices and join these conversations. We face our own unique set of struggles and emotions, and by opening up about them, we can build a stronger support network for ourselves.

The love a father has for his child is something profound—an unwavering loyalty that persists through any hardship. But when your child is born with a disability, you’re confronted with trials you never envisioned facing. It isn’t easy. There are moments filled with frustration, doubt, and fear. You mourn the ‘what if’s’—the milestones you dreamed of seeing your child achieve—but in those most challenging times lies an incredible strength; an unrelenting resolve to do everything possible for your child’s happiness and well-being.

Acceptance is the first step.”

Initially, I was in denial, convinced that my son was perfectly fine. This reaction is common among fathers who grapple with how to express their feelings without upsetting their partners, especially when they cannot reconcile with the information being conveyed. As a novice navigating news of such gravity, pertinent questions naturally arose: Will he lead a normal life? Will he be able to hear at all? Must we learn sign language? These concerns marked the beginning of our journey—a complex and winding path fraught with many detours. There are moments of feeling overwhelmed; yet you forge ahead. You immerse yourself in education about your child’s unique needs and diligently work to build a robust support network.

“Advocating for your child is a profound responsibility.”

Every appointment, every meeting, and every decision can feel overwhelming. You become an expert in their needs, tirelessly championing their rights, best interests, and voice. This role often falls on the parent who manages most of these appointments, which can be especially challenging when juggling other responsibilities. I’ve often felt that the medical teams missed something important about my son; they’ve always been so full of life yet was quickly labelled. As a father who isn’t always present at these meetings due to work commitments or other reasons, there’s a deep sense of helplessness that comes with not being as involved as I’d like to be. Yet despite the struggles and feelings of inadequacy, we press forward loving our children fiercely and advocating for them with all our strength.

Celebrating the small victories is crucial.”

Every step, every word, every milestone, no matter how small, is a cause for celebration. We learned to see the world through his eyes, appreciating the beauty in his unique journey.

Creating a life filled with joy and love is the ultimate goal.”

We have taught him to embrace his differences, to celebrate his strengths, and to find his own path. I have learnt to see the world differently, with a greater appreciation for the beauty in diversity.

It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.”

The love you feel for your child, the pride you experience in their achievements, the joy they bring into your life – these are gifts that make the journey worthwhile.

To all the fathers facing this journey, you are not alone.”

There are countless families navigating similar paths. Find support, build your community, and lean on each other. Remember, you are not just a father, you are a hero, a warrior, a beacon of hope for your child.

In conclusion, fathers hold a special and crucial place in the lives of children with disabilities. By sharing our journeys, supporting our partners, and taking an active role in the Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) process, we can create a loving environment where our children can thrive. Let’s take time to listen to their struggles and speak from the heart as we offer unwavering love and support to both our children and their mothers. Together, we can navigate this journey toward a brighter future for our families. Communication is key here. Don’t be afraid to express your emotions or show vulnerability – these are strengths that make you a caring and supportive father. Lend an ear when needed. Provide comfort during tough times, and reassure your partner that you’re in this together.

Also remember how important it is to care for yourself during this process. As fathers, it’s easy for us to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. But looking after your well-being is just as vital if you want to remain strong pillars of support for your family. Make room for activities that rejuvenate you—whether it’s hobbies, exercising, or simply spending quality time with loved ones—to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy.

By prioritising self-care alongside family care, you’ll be better equipped to give your best as a father on this remarkable journey.

For more information about, please visit the Carers Week