Next meeting is June 24th, 2015 at 10 am or 5:30 pm. Please sign up now.
If you are a parent of a child with autism, brain injury, or other special needs, you may sometimes feel isolated and alone. Who can you talk to about balancing your child’s needs with those of the rest of the family? Making the difficult decision about residential placement? Dealing with your feelings of guilt?
As much as you love and/or respect your family members, neighbors, colleagues, and friends, they may not be able to understand what you are going through. They haven’t walked in your shoes.
But other parents of children with special needs have.
That’s why May Institute holds a Parent and Caregivers Support Group for parents and caregivers of students who attend its schools once a month at the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Randolph, Mass. It’s a group that gives parents and caregivers of children and adolescents with special needs an opportunity to talk with people who have similar experiences and concerns.
“I think the shared experience is what is most powerful for the parents who attend this group,” says facilitator Jamie Needre, M.Ed., Manager of Therapy Services. “Parents often share their journeys from diagnosis to receiving specialized services. For many, it was a fight to get where they are; for others, it was an easier experience, but still a difficult and unique one. Sharing their stories validates their experiences.”
Sabrina, whose 11-year-old son attends the May Center School in Randolph, agrees. “Parents who have shared experiences can support and empathize with one another. And we address issues that we are facing right here and now. It is very helpful.”
The group has discussed a number of common concerns including how having a child with special needs affects parents’ relationships with their other children and with each other; the challenges around transitioning a child into a residential program; dealing with feelings of guilt; and strategies for addressing specific behavioral challenges.
“They also talk a lot about the everyday challenges they face such as going to the grocery store,” Jamie explains. “Or a parent may talk about how she had to completely modify her home to accommodate the special needs of her child. These are challenges that parents of typically developing children might not understand.”
There is also a lot of sharing of resources during the meetings. Attendees recommend doctors, dentists, physical therapists, family mediation services, and recreational activities. An added bonus is the opportunity to develop new friendships.
“I would highly recommend this group to other parents,” says Sabrina. “It is a very comfortable and inviting open forum that maintains confidentiality and anonymity and provides a great way for finding information, seeking help, and obtaining emotional support.”
The Parent and Caregiver Support Group meets monthly in Randolph; daytime meetings begin at 10 a.m., evening meetings start at 5:30 p.m.
Download the flyer here.
If you are interested in participating, contact Jamie Needre at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (781) 437-0740.