You provide all the support you can for your child with learning and thinking differences. But are you getting as much support as you need? Building a strong network of people who are there for you may take some effort. But it’s worth it. The more help, guidance, nurturing, and needed “me time” you get, the more support you’ll be able to give your child.
These steps can help you build a successful support network for you.
Check out support groups near you.
There are many types of in-person support groups. They can be led by parents or by professionals. They may focus on certain learning and thinking differences. Sometimes they have specific views on things like medication and alternative treatments. Talk in advance with the leader or members about the group’s focus.
Do an honest self-assessment.
How are you doing, really? Are you feeling on top of everything, managing OK, or feeling somewhat overwhelmed? Size up how much ongoing support you feel you have — and how much you need.
Consider what’s missing.
Think about which of your emotional or practical needs are and aren’t being met. What could you use more of? Would you like some advice from other parents? Help with all the driving? Words of encouragement? More knowledge about your child’s issues? Let the answers guide your search.
Make it easy for yourself.
You may find a great group. But if you’re scrambling to make it to the meetings, that can create as much stress as it relieves. See how flexible the group is with attendance. Or find one that works better with your schedule.
Think about starting a group.
If you can’t find the right support group for your needs, you might want to start your own group. It can be formal, with regular meetings and perhaps guest speakers, or informal. Maybe you’ll find what you need by having a few parents over periodically to talk about school issues or to share tips.
Get involved at school.
The PTA at your child’s school may have a group or committee just for parents of kids in . Your school district may also have a special education PTA (SEPTA) that covers all the schools in your community. Being involved can give you more insight into your child’s everyday world at school.
Reach out to parents online.
Your support network can extend beyond your local area. In fact, it might help to get an outside perspective. Parents and schools in other areas may take different approaches that might be useful to you. There are many places where you may find other parents of kids with learning and thinking differences, including our community app and our Facebook page.
Develop an inner circle of support.
It’s important to have people you can turn to on an everyday basis. This inner group of family and friends can support you in all areas of your life. Find ways to spend time with them doing things you enjoy. Sometimes the best support is an escape from the day-to-day challenges, even just for a little while.
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About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.