Just as every child with special needs is unique, so too is each parent, family member, and caregiver. No one type of support is right for all people. We’ve selected a sample of resources that parents have found useful along the way.
Organizations that can help you connect with other parents:
Parent-to-Parent (P2P) – Personal support from another parent, who has a child with a similar needs, can be helpful in coping with challenging experiences and feelings. P2P can connect you with another parent of a child with the same or similar diagnosis (volunteer peer mentors).
- Washington State Parent to Parent – 1-800-821-5927. Visit P2P to find a coordinator in your area.
- P2P for Spanish speaking families and other languages
- P2P Oregon
- Parent Coalitions – Throughout Washington State you will find Parent Coalitions that have parents and guardians who have walked the walk and who help parents organize their voices and be heard on issues important to them.
- Parent-to-Parent USA to find a P2P in your state
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) Database – Search by your child’s diagnosis to find a support group or other source of help.
Open Doors for Multicultural Families – A nonprofit, charitable organization dedicated to ensuring that families who have family members with developmental disabilities and special health care needs have equal access to culturally and linguistically appropriate information, resources and services.
Seattle Children’s Support Groups – Contact your regional hospital or healthcare organizations in your area to learn if they offer support group opportunities.
Washington State Fathers Network – Serves fathers and families of children with special needs in Washington State. Includes resources, support groups, essays from fathers, and newsletters.
Washington PAVE – PAVE is a parent directed organization that works with families, individuals with disabilities, professionals and community members in all walks of life and with all types of disabilities. Since 1979, PAVE has provided information, training and support for over 1,000,000 individuals with disabilities, parents and professionals.
Other support organizations in the western states include:
For Siblings of Children with Special Needs
- Booklist and resources for siblings of children with special needs
- Seattle Children’s Sibshops are lively, award-winning workshops for brothers and sisters of kids with special needs. The Sibshops mix information and discussion activities with games and special guests.
- The Sibling Support Project is a national effort dedicated to the life-long concerns and opportunities of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns.
Hear Other Parent Experiences
Listen to these experiences from parents who found support and connection in different ways.
Read About Other Parents’ Experiences
Here are a few essays, book lists, and story collections to get you started:
- Common Bonds – An essay on the experience of parenting a child with special health care needs Meg Comeau, former Coordinator of Boston Children’s Hospital Family-to-Family Program.
- All the Silver Linings – A series of brief essays written by parents for Band-Aides and Blackboards.
Find Professional Help
There may be times when getting support from a professional is what you are seeking. There are a variety of providers to whom you can turn such as therapists, counselors, doctors, social workers, clergy, or spiritual leaders. Friends, family, or health care providers can often be your best resources for recommendations.
Resources to help guide your search for professional support:
- Mental Health Providers: Tips on Finding One (from the Mayo Clinic)
- Mental Health Professionals: Who They Are and How to Find One (from the National Alliance on Mental Illness)