When you are a parent of a special needs child (or children), it’s important that you form your own support groups around you to help you get through the challenging times you will no doubt face. You need someone who is there for you, people you can talk to, and people who understand what you’re going through. Once I became friends with the moms from Emma’s preschool I loved being able to have moms that I could go to that understood exactly what I was going through with my own child. They were there for friendship and support…
Here are some reasons why special needs parents need a support group:
- Compare Notes and Share Info – When you need to ask for the best doctor, therapist, or where to go for certain therapy programs, who better to ask than a parent who’s been there before? Support groups can be very helpful because it allows parents and caretakers to share notes about the best resources available in their community.
- Teachers and IEPs – A big part of being a special needs parent is knowing how to deal with schools, teachers, and IEPs. When you have a support group of parents who have been there, it can help you to ask the right questions, make the right choices, and get your child the help they need more speedily and with the proper channels.
- Someone Who Understands You – Sometimes you just need to be able to talk about things with your child without having to fully explain everything about your child’s special needs. Other parents can also act as a sounding board for advice and input, helping you work through making decisions about your child and your family. I’ve made great friends through my daughters preschool class. I made connections with other parents that truly understood everything that I was going through, so enrolling Emma in school was beneficial for her but for me as well.
Sometimes I am very introverted, the first year of preschool I volunteered but I didn’t really talk to the other parents. The second full year of preschool I challenged myself to talk to more of the parents. I knew that if someone would understand what I was going through it would be them. I would even meet up with some of the other moms for breakfast while our children were in school. This helped a great deal in handling different situations that would arise during the year.
I am also very big on the facebook groups! One of the first support groups I joined was a group for Cleft Lip and Palate parents. This group helped tremendously when I needed suggestions on how to get Emma to eat more so she could get out the NICU.