Parents of children with special needs often feel isolated. That is why it is important to join support groups. Here are three just for you!
by Bash Sarmiento | Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated in his works.
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A lot of parents will agree that the goal of parenting is to raise happy and healthy kids. Parents of children with special needs also have this goal, though there are more challenges to obtaining this goal.
Parenting stress levels are constantly increasing because of outside factors, and this is why it is no surprise that support groups and guides exist to help parents power through their parenting journeys. But the usual challenges and stressors that come with parenting are intensified for parents of children with special needs.
Aside from trying to learn more about their child through proper assessment for children with symptoms of learning disability or special needs, exploring different types of treatments like art therapy and somatic therapy, and looking up educational facilities, parenting a child with special needs can also feel isolating. If you have fears and challenging times as a parent, it’s important to know that you are not alone.
Why are support groups important?
There are support groups for parents of children with special needs across the world. Support groups empower parents by providing information and resources to make navigating raising special needs children, a lot easier. Members of support groups can find strength in each other, whether it’s for advocating for the rights of special-needs people or voicing concerns about changing certain programs for their kids. Joining a support group can also help you feel less lonely or isolated because you’re able to share experiences with people who can empathize with you. Simply put, support groups really live up to their name: they support their members and the community.
3 Support Groups for You
#1 The Arc
The Arc was founded over 70 years ago by parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their core mission is to promote and protect the human rights of people with IDD. They have different initiatives targeted towards the different aspects of the community members’ lives. These include:
- Criminal Justice
- Future Planning
The Arc has almost 700 state and local chapters that you can join as a member. The Arc members have access to the latest information like their newsletter, Capitol Hill updates, as well as access to exclusive insurance coverage rates.
#2 Different Dream Living
Different Dream Living is a website where parents of children with special needs can gather to exchange resources and engage in meaningful discussions about caregiving. The website is a great source of information on raising children with special needs. They have relevant content that you can surely appreciate and turn to for helpful tips.
The Different Dreams Blog covers the different realizations and experiences of a parent of a special-needs child. It also empowers parents like you by providing helpful tips when traveling or going to dentist appointments. Not only that, the blog touches on important reminders for parents and caregivers to be kinder to themselves and practice self-care. The website’s resources section also has a variety of recommendations, from clothing to toys to books!
#3 Mommies of Miracles
Mommies of Miracles prides itself on being the world’s largest virtual support group for mothers of children with special needs. The group’s mission is to eliminate the isolation that mothers of kids with special needs tend to experience. As a member, expect to feel supported and empowered by the group’s vast network of information, products and services, family matching, and more. This is a great avenue for moms who want to connect with other moms whose experiences are similar to their own. Aside from blogs and resources like the Care Notebook, members of the group have access to the following:
- Virtual peer support
- Social Networking: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
- Support services from regional groups, a diagnosis registry, and tips
- Programs that are inclusive and enjoyable for ALL children
- And more!
There are a lot of support groups with regional chapters, but looking for your support group on social media is a good option, too! Because Facebook is a platform that a majority of people already use, it’s an easy way to look for the right group for you.
You can opt to look for a big community where you can benefit from the vast resources that members are sharing, or a more focused, location-based group where you can engage with members and potentially schedule virtual or face-to-face playdates. If you cannot find a group that you think fits well, consider building a new one. You can build a new Facebook group with other parents of special needs children in your area, as this will help bring a support group closer to your location.
There are many bloggers, experts, parents, books, and guides that offer unique points of view and guidance to parents of special needs children. These guides and tips from others can provide insight to areas that were out of range for parents, such as tips on how to cope with children who suffer from autism to cerebral palsy guides for parents whose children were born with the disease. As the internet has developed, so too has the access to information that would normally be unavailable to parents.
When you are parents of children with special needs, it is easy to feel isolated and helpless. But it doesn’t have to feel this way. The unique truth is that parents of special-needs children are always ready to support and empower each other. This will help you to not experience challenges alone. Above all else, remember to surround yourself with people who not only help you raise your kids through insightful resources and tips, but also remind you to be kinder to yourself.