These Core Principles help to guide the work that we do at the Vital Foundation, and also direct the dialogue in our blog at theupsidetoday.com. Take a look, discuss them, tweak them, and finalize a set that will become a foundation for your family. Then we encourage you to post your version on the refrigerator and live them every day.
Be the champion of your child’s destiny: Don’t give up, and don’t give in to letting others take the lead. Take responsibility for the leading role in the life and learning of your child.
Do a reality check : What is the reality as it stands today? Not what you thought would be the reality. Not what you wish or are trying to make work into that reality, but what is REAL today? Now, you have your new "normal." What are your hopes? Making a mission statement, based on what you know as truth…realize your core values as a family…your overarching goals.
Create an “A” team: Build a trusted network of dedicated people, committed to helping you and your child. Family members, trusted close friends, medical professionals, therapists, teachers, etc. Are you willing to work together as a team? Be willing to share what you’ve learned, and help others develop their own A Teams.
Set appropriate and realistic expectations: Setting realistic expectations for everyone—especially your child with special-needs. Getting comprehensive information from professionals and coming to terms with the real situation will start you on the path to setting up realistic goals and hopes for the future. Truly understand your child. Are you willing to be fair with the situation and your expectations?
Have a great attitude: Leadership that reflects encouragement, motivation, and hopefulness in all things. Life is expressed through your attitude…when things don’t go as planned, find a way to believe the words: “It’s better this way.” Choosing to have a positive attitude will go a long way in raising a child with special needs, and working with others who are helping you.
Look for and encourage your child’s strengths: Make the most of what your child’s strengths are, and help your child understand those strengths...every day. It will be needed for their self-image and self-esteem as they make the hard grind on their uphill battle. Celebrate the victories! Find joy in the little wins.
Find the best strategies for your child and family: Watch and learn, keep a journal, ask the others teaching your child…what is working (at home, school, and beyond), what is not, what can we do to make a difference and to make learning and life better? Be willing (flexible) to set strategies in place to move forward in an organized and positive direction.
Celebrate the Family: Don’t let challenges dominate your family’s life. Find the time and the energy to support your spouse and pay attention to each child. Nurturing those solid relationships will boost your spirits, and provide the foundation for a strong family.
Care for yourself: Don’t burn yourself out. You will need to take time to recharge your own batteries. Do it on a regular basis; build it into your life to have the down time that you will need. You are running a marathon, not a sprint.