Why Parents of Special Needs Children Should Join a Support Group
Feelings of isolation among parents of special needs children are common. They often feel alienated from their families and their communities because they barely have time for social obligations like dinners and family get-togethers. Most of their time is spent in therapy, home-schooling and taking care of their child. Who can better understand this experience except for other parents of children with special needs? Support groups remind you that you are not alone and that there are other families like yours out there.
Here are 7 reasons why you should join a support group today:
1. Discuss Schools, Programs and IEPs
A support group will be people who are likely to have come across the same struggles and challenges. Being a part of a community will help you compare notes on the best schools, best practices of service providers, and exchange information about teachers, aides etc. This is helpful because there are other families who have shared experiences about making decisions for their child’s development. This includes making decisions about special education classes, requesting additional school supports, and educational assistants.
2. Knowing Where To Go
Everyone is always looking for a good paediatrician, speech therapist, therapy programs, recreational options, and other recommended professionals who fit the needs of their family. Being a part of the support group means you will know where to go for which services and professionals who are well-recommended by parents like you.
3. Strength in Numbers
The community or support group also has the potential to turn into an advocacy group for the rights of special needs persons, and being part of a group can give you information and access to certain services, funding, and programs. Parents also experience that it can be difficult and intimidating to influence changes in programs and services. However, if families come together and are all voicing common concerns and feedback together, this can lead to being heard by decision-makers.
4. A Support Group is a Sounding Board
Other parents in a support group can be a sounding board for you to talk about key decisions or new strategies and ideas for skill development that you wish to try with your child. Because it is highly likely that other parents may have had the same ideas or experienced the same challenges, a discussion can lead to further insight into what might work or what you may need to do differently to attain maximum results.
5. They Know What You’re Talking About
Most parents agree that connecting with other parents of children with special needs can be a huge area of support. These parents are able to empathize with your circumstances and understand that sometimes you have to make difficult decisions, all without a monologue by you to explain where you’re coming from. Whether your own families and friends are supportive or not, sometimes it is nice to connect with people who live in similar circumstances, because they have lived it and there’s no need to explain it.
6. Play-Dates And More
In support groups, there is a high possibility that you will meet other families who have a child with a similar condition or similar interests. It can be fun and a lot easier to set up family outings and play dates with a child with similar needs and parents who are comfortable with being around you and your child. There is less reason to feel self-conscious or worried about how your child will do in a social situation, you can figure it out together!
7. A Reminder That You’re Not Alone
Feeling like you’re alone in your struggles as a parent taking care of a child with special needs can be difficult, but sometimes it helps to be reminded that even though there may not be someone else with the same cluster of symptoms as your child but there are parents like you out there, facing similar challenges. Find those people, become part of a community of parents with children who have developmental delays and similar conditions, and chances are, you will find a great deal of support within these groups.