Newsline Volume 33, Number 3

The Root to Success: Addressing Emotional Needs

By Mary Castro Summers, Family TIES of Massachusetts

Families of children who have special needs of all ages and all types have one deep connection: succinctly said, they need support and assistance, to enhance quality of life for their children and themselves, as a family unit.

From the experiences of our own families and the many families we meet through our community connections and our work, Family TIES staff is deeply aware of the varied types of assistance that can enhance the lives of this community. The medical, educational, and community activities all factor into the richness of our children's lives. The piece that is harder to nail down is emotional support.

You see, it's not easy for a parent or family member to say out loud, "I want to talk to someone who truly understands my emotions. I need to share my joys and fears, to ask why and how can I experience happiness in my everyday life, to know what might be in our family's future and how to accept and explore that this is my life, my family's life."

It's important to also realize it's not easy for those who offer assistance and support to our families to ask a parent, do you feel like talking about those issues. There is a worry, will I cause upset or distress by raising these questions for the parent or family? Who could I possibly suggest is a good person to share in those conversations, to really enrich the conversations that need to be considered?

It is imperative that parents and family members be given opportunities to explore these questions (and so many more), in order to bring balance to their emotional state. As parents achieve understanding, they gain much more energy to bring to the everyday experience of living life and caring for their children and families.

Truth be told, the best place for parents to have these conversations is - with other parents who are on a similar journey. Call Family TIES, to begin the process of exploring the emotional aspects of raising a child with special needs. Our Parent-to-Parent Program is a great place to start.

Our Parent-to-Parent Coordinator offers parents an opportunity to find a trained volunteer Support Parent whose family experiences can offer keen insight that will be helpful, as you sort through the various challenges that you face in identifying and advocating for your child's needs. For more information about our Parent-to-Parent Program, contact Gloria Klaesges, our Parent-to-Parent Coordinator, at gloria@fcsn.org.

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Family TIES of Massachusetts is a parent-led program that offers information and referral services through its six Regional Parent Coordinators. We are parents, too, and take into account our own experiences as we listen and support your needs. To find community-based programs and resources, you can make initial contact through our toll-free line, 800-905-TIES (8437), or visit our website, www.massfamilyties.org.
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