|Photo credit Care for the Family|
Last year I attended a 7 week course held at my local church run by Care for the Family. The course was for parents of children with additional needs.
Care for the Family is a national charity which aims to promote strong family life and to help those who face family difficulties.*
In 2014 my eldest child O then aged 7 was diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder. This is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
I didn't know a huge amount about autism at all and I was suddenly thrust into the world of additional needs parenting. O is by no means hugely disabled by any means, his condition really impacts on his social interaction and he has a great love of routine.
O is my first child and so for the best part of 7 years I parented him as best I could going along with his phases of clinginess, lack of speech and obsession with routine. I didn't know any different at all and got used to his quirks.
Diagnosis wasn't a huge shock. I decided to stop googling his condition, it scared me and although I had accepted his diagnosis I didn't want to compare him to anyone else I just wanted him to be him and for us to support him through the upcoming challenges.
I heard about the Care for the Family course through attending the church playgroup with my youngest. I bit the bullet and thought I would give it a go. The church kindly provided a crèche for me to put my youngest son in as the course was run on a Thursday morning during term time when O was at school.
I'm not one for talking in public but the facilitators were so friendly and welcoming and it was a small group of mums attending that I gradually felt able to open up and discuss our situation and O's condition.
All the other mums had children with different needs but what surprised me was that we all had similar struggles in common. The disabilities that the children had were totally different but we were all united in the same position as parenting children who weren't the 'norm'.
The course was broken down into 7 sections;
Parenting children with special needs, self esteem, coping with feelings, understanding behaviour, managing behaviour, home and school and the wider family and we were given a workbook to follow alongside.
There was a bit of crossover in the subject areas covered but this was great. We were able to revisit topics of conversation and worked in pairs on short exercises. I found the group a great support to me as I was still getting to grips with everything. I found myself talking with a huge amount of pride about my son to the other mums and it was very therapeutic. Sometimes I found it very emotional but I always left the sessions feeling empowered and that I had renewed strength to cope with the challenges. The course came at the best time for me and helped me to realise I am not alone parenting a child with additional needs. There is support out there and you do have to search for it.
Fast forward to April 2016 and O is like a different child to the one who was diagnosed with ASD in December 2016. He is socially much more confident, has friends and will go to others houses on playdates without me. He also has attended various after school clubs and even had a speaking part in his school play recently.
My 8 year old child is transforming in front of me. Without taking the Care for the Family course I don't think I would be in the comfortable place I am in now or be able to support my son as best as I can.
|Photo credit Pinterest|
Thank you Care for the Family.
*information taken directly from the Care for the Family website www.careforthefamily.org.uk
All views and opinions in this blogp post are my own. I did not receive any payment for this post.