What is a Down Syndrome Parent Support Group?
A Down syndrome parent support group is usually comprised of parents whose children have Down syndrome. Parent support groups provide information, resources and emotional support to new parents looking for answers and solutions to rearing a child with a disability and, in particular, Down syndrome. The group may also include relatives, friends, siblings, foster parents, professionals and interested members of the community.
What is the Purpose of a Down Syndrome Parent Support Group?
A parent support group can be organized to do whatever the members agree their mission or purpose will be. Some groups are informally organized and hold occasional meetings over coffee in a parent's living room. They might discuss and compare the developmental changes in their children, or help one another locate a good pediatrician. They might share information on medical or educational services, programs and other resources available within the community, state or nation.
Another group may want to invite guest speakers who are experts on topics related to Down syndrome. Parent support groups that have a membership program often develop a newsletter to keep their members informed and up-to-date on relevant issues. Some groups evolve into non-profit organizations and operate programs and services for the wider community.
What are the Benefits of a Down Syndrome Parent Support Groups?
Ideally, a Down syndrome parent support group benefits each and every member. The primary benefit of parent support groups is that they serve as a forum for discussing common fears and concerns. There is a therapeutic value in knowing that other families experience similar situations, and participation in group meetings helps to alleviate feelings of isolation and helplessness. By sharing their concerns and problems with one another, parents are able to garner valuable insights and advice. Lessons learned, especially from more experienced parents, can help to build successful coping skills that will make life easier for parent and child.
Another key benefit of parent support groups is coalition-building. When parents and other members of a support group are united, their combined voice is more often heard by school administrators, legislators and community leaders. This goes a long way in providing for the needs and rights of children with Down syndrome. Parent support groups can be instrumental in educating teachers, medical professionals and the community at large about the facts and issues concerning Down syndrome.