Parents who have children with disabilities can obtain great benefit from interfacing with parents in similar situations. Contact with other parents can help parents gain information about effective treatments and educational programs, learn about the best ways of accessing services, and gain emotional support. Many Egroups and web sites for parents in Montgomery County offer opportunities for parents who have children with disabilities to share information and offer each other support; still, many parents yearn for person-to-person contact. The Parents’ Place in Glen Burnie, Maryland provides them with an excellent opportunity to communicate with other parents face-to-face.
Established in 1991, the Parents’ Place is staffed primarily by parents of children with disabilities. Its mission is to provide information, training, and support services for families who have children with disabilities and special health care needs. It also supports professionals who serve such families, and promotes increased understanding between parents and professionals. In addition to offering newsletters and web-based information, the Parents’ Place features a number of opportunities for in-person contact between parents. Its Parent Training Center provides workshops, one-on-one support and training, and information on special education, communication skills, and other issues affecting children with disabilities across the state. Its Maryland Health Leadership program offers training for parents of children with special health care needs so that they can influence change in health care policy. Parents can also visit the Family-to-Family Health Information Center, which provides resources and support for families whose children have disabilities and complex health care needs. Through the Maryland Family Voices program, parents can join with other parents to advocate for the needs of children with complex health care needs throughout Maryland.
In addition to their many other challenges, parents who have children with disabilities commonly experience feelings of isolation. Through organizations such as the Parents’ Place, parents can not only gain vital information to help their children, but also experience the warmth of a supportive community.
-Posted by Jonah Green