Julie McIsaac
June 30, 2021

Providers and teachers: want to support children with disabilities? Support their parents.

Providers and teachers: you know that one of the best ways to support children with disabilities is to support their parents. Exceptional Lives makes it easy.

(Hear this content in audio form instead on our podcast)

That makes so much sense, right?

As parents, we understand this because you can’t pull water from an empty well. As professionals, we understand this because we’ve listened to parents and we hear their stressors and exhaustion. We know that handing a parent a homework list at the end of a session is rarely going to be enough to make their lives easier. The children we work with are part of a family system that is dynamic and ever-changing.  When we work with a child, we work with a family.

So how do we support parents of children with disabilities?

How can we best support a family where mom needs 5 minutes to have a shower alone? How do we help dad find an adaptive playground for his child so all of the siblings can enjoy an outing together?  Where can we refer a grandparent who needs a playgroup or parent group that offers social support?

 At Exceptional Lives, we don’t have all of the answers, but we want to help. Here are our suggestions:

1. Find support in your community.

Our Resource Directory covers both Louisiana and Massachusetts and is available in both Spanish and English.  

It is updated regularly and vetted for accuracy.  Type in your zip code and search for supports within 5 miles, 25 miles or more from where you live.  Once you identify your area,  look for “Parent and Caregiver Supports” and click the box that best applies to you. Are you searching for child daycare, service coordination, parent and caregiver support groups or respite? Check one box at a time and the resources will populate to the right of the menu, giving you a description, directions and contact information for the provider. You can access it from a phone, tablet, or computer.  

Find support in Massachusetts English (button) Spanish (button)

Find support in Louisiana English (button) Spanish (button)

2. Find support online.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Check out our Facebook group for Massachusetts Parents

Check out our Facebook group for Louisiana Parents

Social media groups allow parents to enter a conversation when they are ready and in a way that is comfortable to them. It is an opportunity to reach out to a group of parents or caregivers walking a similar walk or navigating a similar process.  Groups on social media are far and wide in their goals and structure. Some groups are created for parents of children with a specific diagnosis while some are for general parenting advice, some are national and some are local. I suggest finding groups where the people are like-minded in their approach to parenting or how they view the diagnosis. Social media support groups should be a place to feel safe in sharing and gathering help or ideas. If a parent has joined a group that leaves them feeling frustrated or judged, this is not the group for them…but it does not mean all groups are like that!  Encourage them to search again or contact us through our Facebook group or email— we are building our own support network in a safe, monitored community and are happy to help connect to other online support groups as best we can!

3. Read about it in our Perspectives 4 Parents blog (leer en espanol)

Each week, we work hard to write about things that are relevant for the families you support: Looking for a quick way to break down the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP? Need tips for a parent looking to address their child’s behavior by understanding their sensory needs? Want to offer some comfort to a family grappling with their child’s new diagnosis? We’ve got you covered.

You can sign up for our newsletter (look for where it says “Let’s stay in touch” on the bottom right of this page) to get these posts sent right to your inbox.

We welcome you, and the families you support, so please join our ELI community and see what we’re up to!

  • Julie McIsaac, Ph.D.

    Child Development and Disability Advisor

    Julie specializes in working with children and families with diverse developmental profiles She uses reflective practice, emotion-coaching, play and a relationship-based framework to support skill building in the areas of emotional-regulation and problem-solving. Julie consults with families, schools and community organizations. As a parent, she understands the need to have a cohesive team supporting a child and family.

    Profile Photo of Julie McIsaac
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