A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Including Your Child - April 1997
Reach Out to Others
Being a parent or caregiver is not always easy. Raising a child with special needs places many demands on parents and the family. Finding the right help for your child may be hard at first. You and your family need support and understanding. Help is available from many places:
Find out if there is a parent-to-parent program in your community. Local parent-to-parent programs provide support to parents of children with special needs. To provide this support, an experienced parent is matched in a 1 to 1 relationship with a parent who has just found out his or her child has a disability. The match is usually based on a similar disability or special concern of the new parent. The experienced parent shares real-life stories of raising a child with special needs and gives the kind of support that only another parent who has been there can. They describe their experiences in everyday language. In some states, there are both local parent-to-parent programs and statewide parent-to-parent networks that provide training and assistance to the local programs. If your community or state does not have a parent-to-parent program, find out if a Parent Training and Information (PTI) center is in your state. Many groups do parent-to-parent support. Places to look for this is through the PTIs, the local schools, and organizations that focus on children with special needs.
- family members (husband or wife, parents, in-laws, sisters and brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, legal guardians, or caregivers);
- friends, neighbors, or members of churches or temples;
- social workers and others who work with families;
- doctors, nurses, and other health and mental health professionals;
- support groups; and
- parents of other children with special needs.
Brothers and sisters of children with special needs also need support. Brothers and sisters may get together and form support groups or join one. These support groups are a good way for children to talk and share information about special needs.
It is important for you and your child to do things with a lot of different children. Everyone will benefit and learn from you and your child. By getting to know you and your child, others will be better able to help you by sharing their ideas, support, and other assistance.
Remember it is not the size of the support group that is important, but rather how well it works for you. One good friend or supportive relative may be the most helpful to you. Only you can decide what is best for you and your child.
Your love and dream for your child are your greatest strengths. Use these strengths to reach out to others who know what it's like and can give you support.