Often, other parents who have “been there and done that” can be your best source of information. In addition to learning about resources from other parents, many friendships have been formed between parents—which helps make you feel like a part of a community. There are many ways to connect with other parents who can provide support and connect you to helpful resources.
First, you can search for local parent groups by using the "Find Parent Groups by County" tool on this website.
One of the best ways to network with other families is by joining a local support group. Most groups host monthly meetings where parents can share their experiences and tips on what has —and has not—worked for them.
Many group meetings have guest speakers who talk about various topics, such as special education, therapies, and issues about your child’s disability. Others, such as the Down Syndrome Association of Houston, also have smaller community groups. These groups meet casually in their homes or a place nearby where they can talk while the children play.
You may want to join a parent and family Meetup Group. Through meetups, you can get together for fun social activities and get to know other families with similar interests. Some of these groups are disability-specific. There are “regular” playgroups and mom’s groups too. These groups can provide a bridge to new friendships and opportunities for inclusion.
You may be able to find an online discussion group on Facebook or Yahoo. Type in your interest area and city in the search box and see what pops up! These moderated groups can be especially helpful if there are no local support groups in your area. Some of these groups are disability-specific and others are more general. They provide a forum for parents to informally share resources, provide support, and learn from one another.
Parent conferences are another way to network with other parents. If you live in the Houston area for example, Family to Family Network hosts an Annual Conference for families and young adults with disabilities in the late winter/early spring. Here, you can learn with other parents about the special education process, transition, and planning for your child’s future. Most conferences have a resource fair at the same time. You can talk to people from various agencies, organizations and programs about resources to help your child.
You can also find additional information on connecting with other parents in the Family Support section of Navigate Life Texas.
We have all found ourselves, at one point or another, comparing our child or our situation to another. The grass is always greener and you want what you can’t have—all phrases we have heard. Sometimes we must remind ourselves that we are all doing the best we can and we need to support one another and focus on the similarities, not the differences.
With every passing year in the world of being a parent of a child with special health care needs, you have the day to day struggles, the fun holidays, and some surprises. Good and bad.