Finding Support: Parents of Special Needs Children

There is no doubt that parents of special needs children need support and lots of it. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. You have been given a difficult challenge, and others won’t know how to best assist you if you don’t tell them.

Friends and Family

Family and friends can be a tremendous source of love and reassurance, but sometimes they disappoint. Don’t fault them; they might be fearful or confused. Some may not have the emotional maturity to deal with the situation. Maybe they need time to grieve in their own way. Be patient.

Attending Support Group Meetings

Once your child has received a diagnosis, your pediatrician or specialist should give you referrals to foundations and societies representing your child’s disorder. If you do not receive referrals, find support groups, forums, and e-mail groups at the following websites:

PARENTS HELPING PARENTS

OUR – KIDS

SPECIAL CHILD

I remember that I hesitated at first in contacting a support group. Personally, I did not feel comfortable at meetings where individuals discussed their pain so openly. But I eventually attended one meeting for local parents of autistic children. I was glad I did. It was comforting to see other people in a similar situation. And, when I heard some of the other parents’ stories, I felt grateful for Kyle. One mother said, tearfully, “My child screams at any physical contact. The only time I can touch my child is while he’s asleep.” Kyle had always allowed me to hug him, and I had taken this small (but important) thing for granted. The meeting helped me realize that there were people who were struggling with problems far more difficult than mine, and I felt less sorry for myself.

Forums and E-Mail Groups

Forums are a great way to share thoughts, frustrations, ideas, and support with others who are enduring your same trial. You can participate at will, you don’t have to leave your home, and you can be anonymous. But you may find that a personal element is missing, and you need that face-to-face contact. This is a personal decision.

Asking for help is not an easy thing to do. But you will be a better parent if you have love and support from people who care. It is hard to raise any child, but a child with special needs provides an exceptional challenge. Your child is dependant upon you to thrive. Don’t deprive her of emotionally healthy parents.