How to find more support when you have kids who learn and think differently

When you’re a parent of a child with ADHD or learning disabilities, it’s important to build a support network for yourself. These tips can help you get started.

You support your child with learning and thinking differences as best you can. But it’s also important for you to have a support network. The more help, guidance, and “me time” you get, the more you can support your child.

Here are seven steps you can take to build a successful support system for yourself. 

1. Check out support groups near you.

Many types of support groups — in-person or online — focus on learning and thinking differences. Some are led by parents. Others are led by professionals.

These groups may have specific views on things like medication and alternative treatments. Talk to the leader or members ahead of time to find out about the group’s focus.

2. Do an honest self-assessment.

How are you doing, really? Are you feeling on top of everything? Or are you feeling somewhat overwhelmed? Size up how much ongoing support you feel you have — and how much you need.

Also, 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? Or more knowledge about your child’s challenges? Let the answers guide your search for support.

3. 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.

Another option is to listen to a podcast. Try a guided meditation for some “me time.” Or tune in to gain an expert’s insights on a topic you care about.

4. 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 it could be informal. Maybe you’ll find what you need by meeting periodically with a few parents to talk about school challenges or to share tips.

5. 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.

6. 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 Understood’s Facebook page.

7. 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.

Looking for more resources? Get ideas for asking family and friends for help. And learn mindfulness techniques that can help reduce your stress.


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