Parents who have children with special needs can benefit greatly from the expertise of professionals, many of whom can provide sound guidance and effective treatment. In addition, parents can benefit from emotional support and practical advice from other parents. Many parents of children with special needs are very knowledgeable about services and treatments, and are also in an excellent position to offer guidance regarding behavioral issues, as well as how to attend to the needs of the whole family.
Community-minded parents of children with special needs in the DC region have generated several opportunities in recent years for the wider community of parents of children with special needs in Montgomery County to obtain support from other parents. The Egroup MC-Asperger-Parent-Support-Group offers parents who have children on the autism spectrum with a forum to share ideas and resources. The web site www.mcneeds.org and the Egroup MCneeds are great places for parents of children with learning disabilities to learn how to advocate for and access school-based services for their children. The web site www.mctransitions.org along with its companion Egroup MCTrans (this group also holds monthly in-person meetings) offers information and support for parents who have children with developmental disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood*. The Montgomery County chapter of the Autism Society of America features monthly support group meetings as well as frequent educational workshops for parents. The web site www.autmont.blogspot.com offers listings of events for parents of children with autism as well as other special needs, and has recently developed a forum for parents to communicate directly.
In a recent exciting development, SEEC (Seeking Equality, Empowerment, and Community for People With Developmental Disabilities), a provider of services in Montgomery County for those with developmental disabilities, has developed a peer mentoring program called Parent to Parent, or P2P, that trains parents who have children with special needs in how to mentor other parents, and then connects them to parents in need. SEEC’s Mentor Training Program educates prospective mentors on communication and listening skills, and also educates them about local and statewide resources that families may want to access. The mentees include parents who have newly-diagnosed children with special needs or those who have school age children and are in need of extra support.
If you are interested in either mentoring or becoming a mentee in the P2P program, please click here.
–Posted by Jonah Green
*For ideas for families who have children with developmental differences who are transitioning their children to adulthood, please see our blog post “Aiming for Liftoff”