After Nate was born, there was a lot of help from the medical staff at the hospital. The genetic counselor and the social worker, were diligent in making sure that we had the support we needed when Nate came home. One of the many resources that was provided, was connecting us with other families that had children with Nate’s diagnosis.
I will admit, I wasn’t enthusiastic about being in a support group. I was very shy, which made me not want to share my feelings. I also had a few misconceptions of being in a room full of people, who I envisioned would be crying, as they shared their disappointment and sadness, about having a child with special needs. I thought to myself, if that was going to be the environment, I didn’t want to be involved in that kind of support. Instead, I would rather be alone and handle my situation on my own.
For years this was how I felt. And during that time, I continued to be approached by Nate’s therapist, or teachers, who gave me information about support groups and places that I could receive help. I would kindly take the information as I declined their offers, sharing that I didn’t have time and that we were doing well, when actually I wasn’t.
Time moved on and someone suggested that I join an email support group, which I finally agreed. Parents would send messages, discussing their challenges with their children. They would seek help, in the form of asking parents if they had experienced a certain problem with their child. This would garner numerous responses from parents, teachers, therapist, and more. It created a wonderful thread of help and support. Yet, one of the most beautiful things of that email group was the encouraging words from parents to other parents, to uplift the spirits of another parent in raising their child with special needs. Everything that the email group provided was great.
Later, I decided to attend one of the Deaf/Blind Conferences held for families. There, I mingled with parents, talking to some, and getting to know them. I then realized that it was not a sad or depressing environment as I once assumed. It was actually wonderful.
One year, as I drove home from the Deaf/Blind Family Learning Conference, my heart was warmed, as I thought about the numerous families that I met. I loved every moment of the weekend, from the speaker, to the introductions, the sharing of challenges, successes, and more.
It was then that I realized that this was what I needed and I should not isolate myself. All parents of children with special needs must build a network of support that will encourage and help one another in our journey of raising our special children.