Robin Bennett
October 25, 2017

“Be Safe. Be Brave. And Always Be Respectful!” These are the 3 rules of theatre! In this blog, let us consider “Be Brave”  for parents of a child with special needs. In a theatre workshop, being brave means trying new things and not being afraid; but what does it mean from a parent’s perspective?

When you are the parent or loved one of a child with special needs, how do you be brave when there are so many unknowns and stakes are high? It takes courage to try new things and find the missing piece of these things  puzzle to make the picture clearer for your child. There are 3 important “rules” to remember for parents to “Be Brave”.

  1. Know Your Resources
  2. Know a Support System of Other Special Needs Parents
  3. Know Your Rights

Know Your Resources

     In a theatre class, kids with special needs can “Be Brave” because there is encouragement to try new things: prompts, costumes, or different incentives. For a parent, knowing the resources at your disposal can be key to connecting with programs, therapies, and more that are encouragement for your child to learn new things or experience growth in important skill areas.

Here are just a few to get you started:

The Arc

Some things you will find:

  • Public Policy & Legal Advocacy
  • Trainings
  • Employment Services
  • Programs & Services
  • Grassroots Advocacy
  • Resources
  • Educational Advocacy
  • Regional & Local Offices
  • Webinars

Family Voices

Some things you will find:

  • Grassroots Advocacy
  • Family-Oriented Care
  • Healthcare Insight
  • Research
  • State Programs
  • Legislative News & Alerts

Center for Independent Living

Here are some things you will find:

  • State, Regional, & County Offices
  • Information & Referral
  • Peer Support
  • Programs & Surfaces
  • Advocacy
  • Benefits Consultation
  • Independent Living Training
  • Youth Transition Help

Know a Support System of Other Special Needs Parents

     Being brave is always easier when you watch someone else go first! Bravery is contagious; inclusive theatre programs like ours know this, and the same truth applies just as well for parents of children with special needs. There is a common language and experience between parents of children with special needs that can be hard to come by in “typical” circles. Support is welcome wherever it is found, but it is important to surround yourself with other parents who also walk the tightrope that a life with special needs often requires.

Here are a few ways to connect just to get you started:

Meetup is a great tool to connect with groups of any focus, in any area, pretty much at any time! Search for a group that meets your criteria to connect with other special needs parents who are experiencing similar life stages and situations.

 

Parent to Parent has these services:

  • Parenting Information
  • Parenting Tips
  • Webinars & Trainings
  • Support
  • Classes
  • State & Regional Partners

                                       Know Your Rights

The IEP Process-What can you ask for? What should you expect?

Federal Laws & Public Policy-What to know to be an effective advocate for your child. (Many of the above Organizations can also help you here.)

Advocacy-The most important thing you can do for your child!