ASK Parent Mentors

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The challenges of parenthood are intensified by the experience of having a child with special needs.  Research has demonstrated the importance of support for families of children with special needs, specifically; social support is recognized as an effective buffer against the stress and isolation faced by this population. There emerges a strong argument in favor of support from similar others.  Parent to parent programs provide emotional and informational support to parents of children who have special needs.
 
About Special Kids has two levels of parent to parent support offered to families.  Parent Liaisons are staff members of ASK, who are parents that work directly with families in understanding and navigating community resources and systems that serve their child with special needs. Each family that contacts ASK is assigned to a Parent Liaison for support and services. 
 
When a parent wants more one on one emotional support or wants to talk with a parent that has a child with a similar disability, then a Parent Mentor match can be made available through a Parent Liaison.  To provide this Parent Mentor support, trained and experienced parents are matched in relationships with parents who may be new to the “world of disability”.  Because the veteran parent has the shared experience of a disability in the family, and has negotiated many of the systems and resources, they are often able to provide a unique form of support that only another parent who has “been there” can. (Santelli, Turnbull, Lerner, & Marquis 1993)
 
“When would a parent want a Parent Mentor?”
 
  • During stressful times
  • Early on with a new diagnosis or the birth of a baby with a special need
  • During times of transition for your child with special needs, to talk with someone that has already walked through that time
 
What Parent Mentor is NOT:
 
  • NOT a source of medical advice or a substitute for medical care
  • NOT a source of promoting one provider
  • NOT a source of to better understand systems or community resources (this is a trained Parent Liaison’s role)
 
What is expected from a Parent Mentor?
 
  • Sensitive listening and emotional support
  • Mutual problem solving
  • Invitations to group and social activities for families
  • Support group suggestions
  • Hints for day to day survival skills
 
How to become a Parent Mentor?
 
  • Complete an application to become an ASK Champion
  • Mark on the application that you would like to be a Parent Mentor
  • Take the online Parent Mentor training (this starts immediately after you compete the Champion application)

To apply, complete an ASK Champion application.