After he failed the MCHAT, we asked ourselves, “What do we do next?”
After the Early Intervention evaluation, we asked ourselves, “What do we do next?”
After the speech therapist couldn’t give us names of any other parents in a similar situation, because of understandable privacy constraints, we asked, “What do we do next?”
I knew I needed to find a support system, other parents with children that had similar delays to our own, just so we could ask questions of someone other than our pediatrician or speech therapist or EI coordinator. I found it in other parents we happened to meet at Target or at the playground. When he started school, I found it in the teachers he saw daily and the other parents whose children were in his classes. I also was lucky to happen upon some online groups, on Facebook and other sites, that gave me an avenue for asking questions and sharing stories.
Regardless of the challenges that you and your child might be facing, whether it’s Down syndrome or a learning issue (like dyslexia) or autism or a physical challenge like cerebral palsy, you can find other parents to connect with if you know where to look. This month, I wanted to share with you some local resources as well as some online places where you can find some virtual connections.
BUDS – Bringing up Down Syndrome
This group is for parents with children with Down syndrome of all ages. The local chapter has periodic meetings as well as a fundraiser, the Buddy Walk, every October. Their site also gives local resources for parents among other information.
For parents of children on the spectrum, this group has periodic meetings (with childcare), monthly activities, and a list of local resources on its site (which is currently under construction). Their Facebook page allows parents to leave questions about any issue related to raising a child on the spectrum in the Huntsville-Madison County area.
UCP – Huntsville Parent Support Group
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Huntsville hosts a weekly support group for parents of children with disabilities on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 – 10.15 am at the UCP Therapy Center. The group’s goal is to promote networking between families, connecting experienced parents with those new to the disability community, and to spread information about local resources and referrals for services. The UCP Therapy Center is located at 2075 Max Luther Drive in Huntsville
While Facebook has its reputation for being a convenient time-waster, it can also be a lifesaver in terms of finding other parents and support groups for almost any issue you might face as a parent. A cursory search yielded multiple groups for Down syndrome, ADHD, learning challenges, cerebral palsy, autism, and more. Groups can be local or not, but, regardless, you can find a group of other parents dealing with the same delays and disabilities.
This website has been particularly helpful for me personally. I am a member of the Autism – Support across the Spectrum group, where I have been able to answer a number of questions of other parents on the site and get advice or feedback about any issue. Multiple groups exist for parents who had children with challenges, regardless of whether or not they’re learning, development, or physical. It’s just one site of many, I’m sure, that has message boards, but the site is one of a group from CafeMedia, a group of sites which can reach up to 75 million users.
If you know of any local support groups or other resources I may have missed here, please leave them in the comments. The goal of this column is to share information for any parent with a child with any sort of delay or disability so that we all know that we are not alone in facing those challenges.
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Jennifer Kelly grew up in the Birmingham area, but migrated to Huntsville for graduate school and put down roots after meeting her husband, Jamie. In addition to being a mom to her two boys, she is a tennis ninja, trivia nerd, freelance editor, and aspiring writer. You can visit her at The Sir Barton Project, a blog about her upcoming book.