Monday, August 22, 2011

Forum Spotlight: Special Needs

 Do you know we have many wonderful support groups at NorthMetroDCMommies? One of them is just for moms with Children with Special Needs!  If you have a child with special needs and want support, advice or just to vent this is the forum for you!  If you want to know how to help your child understand kids with special needs or if you work with kids and want some advice, come join the discussions or start one.  The moderator, Ilene (DRS_Are_Best) sat down with me to share more information.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Children with Special Needs forum?
This is a place for local Moms to come to talk about how to handle children with “Special Needs”. This includes speech delays, autism, SPD, down's syndrome, or anything else. It's a very supportive group of women who both ask and answer questions for one another. We are some of our most valuable resources – our own experiences. We can help people determine where to start when it comes to a new therapy, we can exchange information about upcoming meetings, we can just listen to each other vent about a bad day, whatever is needed.

How did you first get involved with this forum/NMDCM?
I was actually looking for this forum when I joined NMDCM. I learned that talking to other parents dealing with a child (or children) with autism was more helpful than talking to our doctors. I wanted to listen to what others had done. I wanted to learn what they had to offer. And I felt that I had a fair amount of knowledge and experience to share with the group. Every time I ask a question, someone is always ready to answer me. And I try to do the same for them. When this group was in need of a moderator, I was honored that I was asked.

What do you like most about the Children with Special Needs forum?
The supportive nature of the group. This group involves some very personal and sensitive issues. None of us want to admit that our children are having difficulties. None of us wants to admit that our children are not “typical”. It makes it hard to talk about our concerns. This group is inviting. This group supports everyone who comes in to ask a question. This group epitomizes what a local online support forum should be, in my opinion.

Can you give us an example of the support you have received from this forum?
As my husband and I were preparing for my son's IEP meeting, we had several concerns about his placement. He wasn't progressing as well as his twin sister and I thought his placement may have been a cause of this discrepancy. So, I asked questions of these Moms about what they thought of the programs and of how to address these issues in the meeting itself. I received a great deal of support and helpful advice. And, in the end, I think we were able to make the right decision to best help our child, because I knew what to ask, how to look and how to listen to the answers of the IEP board.

Does this forum have any scheduled events coming up?
No. I have considered arranging for an event, but I'm a bit hesitant. Personally, I don't know these women face-to-face very well (but I would recognize a few of them if I saw them), and I think I find that helpful. The semi-anonymity of this group may actually help us ask some of these questions.

Do you have a favorite event from this forum?
No (see above). But I do like that we share information about upcoming events so we can learn about these areas and the programs that are available to continue helping our kids.

Any tips for moms looking to join this forum?
Just be supportive and open to asking and/or answering questions. We have people who are just learning to cope with a diagnosis, others who have been living this for years, and everything in between. We also have people who don't deal with special needs in their own children, but see it around them and would like to learn how to help. Realize you are entering a community with very sensitive needs and please be respectful. If you accept that, then you are all most welcome!

Thanks Ilene!  Be sure to come over and see what we're talking about and get the support you need!


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