This Journey Our Life

31 Days of Support—Day 10: Different Types of Support Groups

Family, Special Needs, Special Needs ParentingRachel

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As I mentioned previously, there are various avenues to receiving support:

  • Professional organizations
  • Public agencies (many of which are provided at national, state, and local levels)
  • Support groups
  • Church
  • Community
  • Family
  • Friends

Yesterday, I shared about the importance of joining a support group and today I’m sharing a few basic types.

Online Support Groups

Thanks to vast improvements in technology, support groups are now readily available right at your fingertips.

Pro: Can be utilized in the comfort of your home from your computer screen according to the convenience of your personal schedule.

Con: No face to face conversation or contact.

Support For Special Needs.com lists over 133 support groups with subjects covering a wide range from autism to faith and disability to homeschooling to traumatic brain injury recovery and many, many more.  It also had several groups categorized by state, providing resources and information specific to each one.

In-person Support Groups

Pro: Ability to meet face to face on regularly scheduled basis with fellow parents, and the opportunity to get away for a short period of time, allowing you to recharge and regroup.

Con: May not always be offered at a timeframe suitable for your schedule and involves time away from your home and family.

Hearing about in-person support groups can happen through a variety of sources from flyers to word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask your child’s teacher, doctor, therapists, or other parents for any information regarding support groups for parents with similar needs to your own.

You could also call or look online (usually under your local county’s website or local school districts site) to locate a parent resource center for information pertaining to any parent supports currently offered locally.

Membership-required Support Groups

Pro:  Entitles you to a variety of benefits, including free printed materials containing valuable information, access to services and programs within the organization, as well as support of a large community through online services, (and fees are usually reasonable).

Con: Requires a payment or some form of dues (whether monthly or annually) in order to join.

A great example of this is The Arc, which is “made up of a network of more than 700 state and local chapters nationwide. Our chapters serve as the primary vehicle through which we advance our mission… providing individual advocacy, programs, services, and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.”  They do offer “special membership rates for individuals, self-advocates (individuals with a disability) and families which entitle you to a variety of benefits, foremost of which is your connection to The Arc.” (excerpts from www.thearc.org).

Another great example?  The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI).  They also have online support for parents (Family Connect), and you don’t have to be a member of NAPVI to join.

I hope this brief overview helped to give you an idea of the valuable resources available, each offering a variety of options for support.

Your Journey:  What type of support group has worked best for you in supporting your family’s needs?  Feel free to share in the comments!
 
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Have an extra minute? Click on a box below to check out a three of my blogging friends also participating in the 31 Days series, hosted by the Nester

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