Parents have to adjust their parenting style with children who have special needs

Counselor and parenting expert Decca Knight is one of presenters at Carilion Children's Conference

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Films like "Wonder" are helping start the conversation within families about children with physical differences or special needs.

For Early Years, we stopped by the Carilion Children's Conference, which focused on parenting kids with special needs.

More than 300 people were registered for the event at Hotel Roanoke.

Parenting expert and counselor Decca Knight was one of the presenters.
She's worked with thousands of parents of children with special needs

Knight says depending on the need, parenting styles typically need to change.

"And what we often say to parents if to find something that is well researched, something that you think works and stick with it. Don't switch all the time, because that's really hard on you and your family," says Knight.

Knight adds that it's hard for some parents to even accept that their child has special needs.

That's why it's important to be honest with your child about their disability.

"There are a lot of disabilities that are hidden disabilities and so parents a lot of times don't encourage their children to talk about their disabilities. And a lot of times, they don't want the school or friends or family members to know about the disability. And so what ends up happening to the child is they begin to understand that I'm d different from other people and I don't know why," says Knight.

Knight says parents need to advocate for their child, but also to encourage their child to advocate for themselves and speak up about the challenges they face.

That gives them more control, and helps reduce the stigma, she says.