If you are a parent of a child with a disability or special health care need, you have bigger challenges to overcome than you ever thought possible. There may be days where you feel alone in your struggle and isolated. Maybe you've been so busy taking care of your child's needs and the rest of your family that you do not have time to even think about seeking support from those who have walked a similar road or how they could help.
You are not alone, and a parent support system really can make a difference.
Sometimes, all you need is to talk with another parent––a parent who's been down a similar path and understands, someone that you can discuss ideas and share thoughts with. Connecting with others who can relate to your journey can offer long-lasting friendship and support.
When my daughter, our second child, got her first diagnosis, my husband and I felt so lost, confused, and alone. I needed to learn everything I could. I needed to find strategies that would help with some of her symptoms. She also has a mental illness and I was out of ideas on how to help her and my family cope.
I first began Goggling the name of her disability. In researching online, I found a group for parents with children like mine! I met many moms like me, but there was one mom that I bonded with immediately. We began chatting and then we finally met.
Ten years later, I speak to her every day. If my family is in crisis mode, I can call her and she always has an idea for us to try. We have laughed, cried, and just talked about our children’s disabilities for many hours. I always feel refreshed after we talk. I get the energy to make it through the rest of the day
There are many ways to make connections and build your support system. A good place to start is online. Try searching for local parent groups that have children similar to yours. There are also groups that are specific to a diagnosis, like autism. Many of these groups provide childcare while you attend the meeting. There may also be local faith based organizations that offer similar services. These groups not only provide valuable information and sharing among parents, but also a social network and a place to make connections.
Texas Parent to Parent is a statewide parent organization that offers, among many other services, parent matching and many listserves to connect parents and share information. Facebook is another good place to find parent groups for children with disabilities.
You can also search for these groups and others on this website under Find Services, Groups, and Events.
Remember, there are others that are going through some of the same or similar issues as you. It is so important for your emotional state to have someone you can talk to, someone who “gets” it. Having another parent’s support and listening ear can make a huge difference in your life. If this article sounds comforting to you, start looking for connections now!
For more about connecting with other parents, check out the Connecting with Other Parents of Children with Disabilities on this website.