You spend your life supporting your child, but who’s supporting you?
At Graham Behavior Services, we understand that parenting is a lifetime commitment, especially when your child has special needs. That’s why we offer comprehensive services from diagnosis through adulthood. But that also means offering support to you, the parent.
We’ve all heard it before, “put on your oxygen mask before helping the person next to you.” But when the person next to you is your child, it’s hard to remember to put yourself first. GBS now offers low-cost, professionally run support groups to help you and your family get those oxygen masks on.
Sessions run twice per month, and are led by Sarah Pampilonia. Sarah has a masters in education, as well as a history of working with social services and special needs families. She will be your guide, and help all participants to identify their goals, provide emotional support, and facilitate meaningful solutions. While all session topics will be driven by the needs of those present, there are three major areas of focus.
Self care is defined as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” We often think of self care in dramatic ways, like the influencer who dedicates an entire day to spa treatments and meditation. But self care doesn’t need to be big to be effective. It might be a walk around the block, or laying down in a quiet room for 15 minutes. You just need to remember, put your oxygen mask on first. In group, you will learn to evaluate your own self care needs, identify barriers, and create solutions.
The day you become a parent is the day you become an advocate. Whether it’s at the doctor, in school, or out in the world, parents advocate for their kids in big and small ways everyday. As your kids grow and change, so does the type of advocacy you do. When your kids are little, it seems that there is every opportunity to gain services and support. But as your kids reach adulthood, it can seem like empathy and assistance are in short supply. In group, you can connect with other parents who are experiencing the same thing. From barriers to successes, having a community who understands you is vital.
Often the biggest concern for parents is what the future will bring for their children. As you and your child age, you need to plan for the time when you are no longer able to care for them full time. While these types of plans may cause worry or anxiety, it’s important to figure out your options early on. Group members will be able to share the emotion and stress of identifying residential placements, whether that means independent living, assisted living, or full time care. Finding high quality residential placements can be mentally exhausting, and requires time and focus. Together, we can identify both internal (cognitive fatigue, anxiety, etc) and external (resources, paperwork, etc) barriers and work through them.