A lifeline for isolated parents of children with special needs

Posted by Letswalo Marobane on 30 March 2020 3:40 PM SAST

Living with a disabled child can be very daunting for parents, many feel isolated and that nobody really understands the pressures of dealing with their child on a day-to-day basis. Their isolation is often due to a lack of support or connections to programmes in society that offer assistance.

A study by human rights watch has found that many parents are suffering from extreme stress and isolation. More than 47% visited a medical practitioner due to anxiety, with 57% being prescribed antidepressants. 


The findings paint a bleak picture of the emotional toll due to a lack of support. Two-thirds of parents say they had problems accessing local services, while some expressed concerns about not finding support for their children and themselves.


Online communities can contribute to a solution. Sharing with others, who are facing, or have faced the same issues may help to navigate the path while reducing stress. People share information with one another, such as information about therapies or new programs, stories and experiences, and advice on how to deal with different professionals, online communities connects parents to countless support. 


In addition, parents can share their frustrations and have their feelings validated and understood.  Through these groups, parents can get to hear about training workshops, school services, and attend events that may be beneficial, including social outings. Other benefits include the opportunity to forge long-lasting friendships with other families. 


“Just knowing that someone else understands what you are doing through can help you feel more grounded and less alone in your journey,” says Mandi Silverman, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.


References: Mandell, D.S., & Salzer, M.S. (2007). Who joins support groups among parents of children with autism?  Autism. 11 (2), 111-122.

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