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The Power of Support

By Sherri Moore, Lead Resource Specialist
En Español

I was greeted at the door by a normal looking woman with blond hair and glasses. I walked into a normal house in a normal looking neighborhood. I was led into the house and took a seat at their normal dining room table. But the reason I was there, well, it sure didn’t feel normal.  

I am the parent of a special needs child and my world felt anything BUT normal.  

As I sat with this group for the first time, I looked around and realized that there were 4 couples seated at the table. Great. Another way I am different. I was the only single parent in the group. I can’t seem to escape this world that seems to isolate me and continually show me how different my family is. The endless appointments, the search for answers that don’t seem to exist, the uncertain future; these are all things I carry daily. It affects every aspect of my world from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I lay my head down at night. And even then, my thoughts just race sorting through all the things that need to be done and worrying all of those worries that I can’t seem to escape. Yet the rest of the world seems oblivious to it.  

About a month ago, someone told me about this support group. They thought it might be helpful for me to connect with other families who have children with similar challenges. I was pretty skeptical. I mean, I was pretty educated about my child’s condition. I attended trainings and read everything I could get my hands on and researched on top of research. I felt like I could teach a course on it. I knew things that the doctors and therapists didn’t seem to know. But still, I struggled with getting success. If I had learned so much, and put so much effort into it, what was I really going to get out of this group?  

So I sat at that table, listening as other members of the group started sharing their highs and lows about their week. I was kind of surprised. I heard details of outrageous events, including some that were really unimaginable. Group members talked about their fears that they have for their child’s future. They talked about the effects on siblings. They talked about family members who are judgmental of their decisions. They certainly expressed frustration at not getting this therapy or that treatment. They talked about the troubles at schools. And on and on and on.  

Then I realized that what I was hearing...was my own story. Now, there were some variations. More kids, less kids. More support, less support. More chaos, less chaos. But there was still a common thread. I had always felt that I was so unique in my experience, and that was so different than the people around me.  

I was used to seeing other parents playing with their child in a way that mine can’t. There were social media proclamations of their child’s successes. And the simplicity with which others go through their day, imagining that their relatively minor inconvenience was so earth shattering was one of the worst. They were all just reminders of what my life wasn’t.  

I had gotten so used to telling everyone the “lite” version of our life. Things that are hard, embarrassing, or uncomfortable are packed away and rarely, if ever, brought out in front of others. So, as I sat in this room listening to others sharing these deep and personal details of their lives, I was drawn in. I was allowed to feel that the things I experienced and felt may not be things that needed to be hidden from them. They were feeling what I was feeling. They weren’t judging or backing away from each other’s imperfections. They were supporting, and reassuring, and elevating each other. 

I realized it was not whether they were going to teach me anything about caring for my child. It was about them feeling what I was feeling. They understood what was going on in my life, not because they had read about it, or had someone explain it. They had walked it. They had experienced it. They had their scars. And even though they were also in the depths of it, somehow, we joined together and used our shared experiences to lift each other and build a solid structure around each of us, which somehow made us stronger individually.  

Finding my “community” helped me sustain through some really tough times by allowing me to realize I was not raising my special needs child alone. Even though it wasn’t really any easier, this group of people allowed me to begin to find my place where I could finally able to feel...normal.  

What's Happening

INF2F will be hosting a roundtable discussion on Preserving Rural Cultural while Improving Access to Care at the IU Center for Rural Engagement's Rural Conference on May 12th-13th in French Lick. The cost for this event is between $50-$80 per registrant; however, scholarships are available. 

INF2F Staff will be sharing information and resources with families at the 2022 Disabilities Expo in Fort Wayne, hosted by the AWS Foundation. The expo will take place on Saturday, May 14th at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Admission is FREE, and parking vouchers are available on the event website.

At INF2F, not all of our events are in person. Whenever you need information- we are here! We have information, education, and training available on demand across our social media platforms. Check out our INF2F Introduction Video for more information about our organization. We are always here and available to help!
Join us for a "Shop for Good Online" event with Kendra Scott Jewelry! Between April 30th and May 1st, 20% of your purchase on will benefit INF2F when you enter the code: GIVEBACK-BUNDB into the coupon code bar at checkout! Contact INF2F for additional details.

Did You Know?

The end of the school year is quickly approaching. Here are a few resources to help you get through this school year and start planning ahead for the next:
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