Finding Social Support as a Parent of a Child with Extra Needs
If your a parent of a child with learning differences, ADHD, social or behavioral issues looking for a supportive group who understands, the following resources are a great start!
Many parents have been there: their child has a verbal or physical meltdown in the grocery store, at an amusement park or in a parking lot. It's stressful to be the recipient of shaking heads, disapproving looks and outright words of disdain, seemingly aimed at the (lack of) parenting skills.
What those bystanders don't know is the amount of work it took for the parent to get their child with special needs from the house to that public setting and how the child often can't help their behavior. When parenting high needs children, there is a need for strong social supports as an outlet, a support and a resource.
Social Support for Parents of Children With Behavioral Issues
Thankfully, society has evolved from stigma that was often associated with social and behavioral issues, and families are more willing to discuss their child's disorder instead of hiding it. Parents should not be afraid to look for other parents or caregivers in similar situations, as there is strength in finding others who may be experiencing the same parenting struggles
Use Your Child's School as a Resource
Parents should begin looking for assistance at their child's school. Ask the director of special education, school psychologist or guidance counselor what resources exist in the area, how often they meet and how to contact them for support. They may even be able to suggest specific groups or meetings based on the child's learning difference, which would be even more valuable in terms of relevance.
Expand Your Parent Network
Are there other children in the same grade or class with similar issues? Ask for their phone or email address to casually "compare notes" on areas of strength and improvement. Reach out as another parent in a similar situation and encourage sending quick emails or texts of encouragement, or advice in trying times. Arrange play dates or activities with another adult who will be comfortable around a high needs child.
Ask around at the waiting room of a therapy facility or adapted play environment and strike up a conversation with people there. Form an impromptu meeting group that can discuss everything from new research to the hottest TV show.
Look for Online Support Groups
Prefer no face-to-face contact? Look no further than the internet. Facebook has dozens of support groups tailored to a child's specific difference. It's easy to find a supportive community of special needs parents to relay experiences without fear of shame and often receive an uplifting comment or discuss potential solutions.
All of these groups can assist with a child's behavior, but more importantly, they are assistance for the child's biggest support: their parent.