5 great websites for special needs parents!

ImageWhen I began my new journey as a special needs Mum, I had no idea where to go to get support!

I clearly remember the feeling of isolation and confusion when my first child, Billy was born.  I was hearing medical terms I had never heard before, and wondered where to next.  Billy was born with several abnormalities.  I was looking forward to meeting my baby, but instead I met a number of Doctors who introduced me to medical terms.

Billy was almost five months old when I was able to take him home.  I felt nervous and alone.  It was impossible to know what the future held for Billy, in terms of development. As Billy grew, it was easy to see he was lagging behind other children his age.  I knew I needed support but it was difficult to know where to get it.

I found it extremely frustrating trying to find information and of the little I did find, most were unable to help as Billy did not fit their criteria.

Billy is almost ten years old now and I have spent many of those years researching and learning to not only help Billy but also help myself. The emotional impact of having a child with disabilities is huge!  You may experience grief, anger, guilt, resentment, isolation. You may lose friends, you may have relationship issues and the support that you do have may try to tell you they understand, but you know, it is impossible for anyone to understand unless they live with it themselves.  I’m sure there are many parents that suddenly find themselves in the world of special needs, who feel overwhelmed and confused. To make life a little easier I have put together this list of some great websites to help you find the right type of support.

  • Parent to Parent

This is a fantastic site. It has lots of great information from other parents that have special needs children so the issues are real and the advice is relevant. Some of the content is targeted to families in Melbourne but that is no big deal as there are lots of great tips and resources that apply to anyone and it’s free to access!

 http://www.deakin.edu.au/dhs/parent_to_parent/

  • Friendship Circe Blog

This site is run out of the US however the information is relevant globally.  They have loads of informative posts on the issues we aren’t told about, such as “Helping our children cope with haircuts” or “The 10 best special needs apps”. Lots of tips and reviews on all things special needs.

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/

  • Disability Online

Disability Online is Australia’s disability hub. It has so much great information on almost everything to do with services, events,recreational activities, news, and carers support.  Lots of great links to other disability organisations.

http://disabilityonline.org.au/

  •  Sue Larkey

Sue Larkey is unashamedly passionate about her mission – to inspire parents and educators and teach them how to Make it a Success.  Sue Larkey is uniquely positioned within the education system having taught both as a primary school teacher and a special education teacher.  She has lots of fact sheets on autism and Aspergers along with workshop information, products, books, tip sheets and other resources.

http://www.suelarkey.com/

  • e-Bility

Offers easy access to a wide range of information, resources, services and products of interest to people with disability, their families and carers, health professionals and service providers in the disability sector. Really easy to use with loads of information!

http://www.e-bility.com/

So there you have them, my top five websites for parents of children with special needs.  Hopefully this list will make things a little easier when you may well be on the back-end of meltdowns by your child or if you’re like me, meltdowns from yourself!

Do you know of any other great websites for special needs parents? If you do please share them with others by commenting on this post.

4 Little known tips about taking your special needs child to a play centre

What’s noisy, confronting and sometimes… umm… not fun at all?

The dreaded play centre! There I said it.

If you have a child with special needs, no doubt you’ll know what I mean. But guess what?  I’ve discovered something that every parent with a special needs child, needs to know about preparing for a trip to the play centre.

The last time I decided to put on my “I have it all together face”, I decided to show it off at a play centre. Needless to say, I left feeling a bit sad and stressed.

It wasn’t because I asked for a cappuccino and got a flat white. No it was because of a number of, “out of my comfort zone” situations, that comes with being the mother of special needs five-year old boy.

The comfort I’m talking about is the zone where Mum sits down and chats with other mums over a flat white, cappuccino, tea or whatever, while the kiddies are off having a ball (or throwing the balls!)

What I have learnt, is that it CAN be enjoyable. Using tips from other carers and knowing what to expect, and most importantly, which play centres are most appropriate for my special needs child, can make the difference.

For example, only a couple of “oh my” *palm to forehead* moments – like knowing the whole play centre is watching “that adult” climbing the slide with their daggy undies completely exposed!

Oh and the one where you are running around after your child as he/she is cleaning the other tables, by swiping others chips. Maybe your child also sits right in the walkway at the entrance, stimming and making unusual noises so every child that comes in stops to stare and every parent asks, “is he ok??”

If it’s not that then maybe it’s the full-blown meltdown, either your child with special needs has, or your other child because you find yourself having to leave five minutes after arriving. Please tell me I’m not the only one?!

A play centre that accommodates, understands and treats me and my kiddies like everyone else despite my bent antennas, big red ballroom gown with purple daggys over the top, and one eyeball (yes I feel like an alien at times), can be a positive experience. It would probably be better to call first, and ask questions such as:

  • What is their quietest day?
  • Do they have a policy that will refund your money if you are only there for 5 minutes?
  • Do they have an understanding for your child’s lack of cooperation for leaving socks on?
  • Do they have an unused room on the day you plan to visit, which may help you to calm your child rather than leave and have your other child miss out?

Asking these simple questions can mean the difference between a visit to a play centre being a disaster or completely amazing!

And it’s totally worth it because it just may be the place where you witness one of those small steps for child, huge steps for our child kind. In other words one little thing that fills your heart with love and total bliss, the first independent ride down the slide, the first attempt to climb the fort, or something I have witnessed – the absolute joy on Billy’s face because for once he is part of the fun.

For that smile, I would be a daggy undie wearing alien everyday of my life.

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