The idea behind Parent to Parent USA -- that parents can help others who are facing similar challenges -- seems to be founded in common sense. Yet you may be wondering whether this individualized support is really effective. Perhaps there could be a more generalized approach that would perform the same function without the same level of one-on-one interaction? After all, the individual approach relies on parents who are qualified by their experience and training sessions, rather than on professionals who have years of formal education in this area.
A national study involving hundreds of parents confirmed the effectiveness of the Parent to Parent model. In particular, the study found that parents' sense of their own ability to cope with the challenges of raising a special needs child was greatly increased by having personal, parent-to-parent support. Eighty percent of parents in the study reported that contact with a support parent was a beneficial experience [source: P2P USA].
The one-on-one approach of Parent to Parent USA provides two different types of support: emotional and informational. The emotional support provided by a veteran parent who understands, on a very personal level, the struggles you face and the emotional stresses that are part of the territory can be vital to your success. Informational support may include practical tips about getting through each day, doctor recommendations or the names of local resources and programs for children with special needs. Educated professionals may be able to offer the informational assistance, but they might not be able to provide the same kind of emotional support as someone who has shared the experience.
For more information about Parent to Parent USA and its Web site, visit the links on the next page.