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Upon finding out that their child has CP, parents often have a hard time coping with such a life-changing diagnosis.
Many families affected by cerebral palsy find that joining a support group can be incredibly beneficial.
Organizations that offer emotional, medical and financial support are great ways to help parents feel like they are not alone in this fight.
Support communities are a great place for new parents to get tips and advice from those who have already been through many of the early struggles of raising a child with cerebral palsy. By talking with people who have been in your shoes, parents and caregivers will come out feeling more prepared for their family’s future.
Cerebral palsy support groups help to:
There are a number of support groups available across the country. These groups ensure that children and parents in any city have access to the resources they need.
The March of Dimes’ mission is to improve health and wellness for new mothers and babies. Their expansive support community provides a place to share stories through various online discussion boards and forums. They also have a large social network of parents who have experience raising a child with special needs.
If you are feeling overwhelmed in your search for community support, this organization is a great place for parents to start. March of Dimes also connects their members with other parents located in the same part of the country. This is a great way to create a local support system that all parents could benefit from.
This organization was founded by two families that were directly affected by cerebral palsy. Motivated by the desire to build a better life for their children, these parents created Cure CP to help fund and support research for cerebral palsy.
Currently, there is no cure for cerebral palsy and this can be frustrating for anyone affected by this disorder. Cure CP specifically supports research geared toward developing a cure and providing hope for the future.
The Cerebral Palsy Foundation was founded in the 1950s. This organization contributes millions of dollars each year to cerebral palsy research. These studies and clinical trials focus on finding new treatments that increase mobility and improve the overall quality of life for people with CP.
In addition to funding research, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation also campaigns to increase the level of federal support for people with CP. They are leaders in advocating for better educational programs for doctors, nurses and therapists.
This advocacy group primarily strives to increase federal funding for cerebral palsy research. They focus on improving treatment methods used in children with CP and they work endlessly towards finding a cure for this condition.
Reaching For The Stars also founded the “CP Kids Coalition.” This is a group of young people who produce articles and engage in discussions about the issues surrounding transitioning into adulthood with cerebral palsy. This is also a great place for young adults with cerebral palsy to meet other people they can relate to.
Local support groups are established so that families across the U.S. have access to the emotional and medical resources they need.
The organizations listed below all offer affiliate programs in almost every major city in America. To find an affiliate group near you, simply visit their website and provide your location. You will then be given a list of nearby affiliate groups that provide an array of services for both children and adults with cerebral palsy.
The mission of UCP is to educate, advocate and provide support resources for individuals with disabilities. They aim to provide people with any type of disability with the tools to be independent and lead a happy, healthy life. UCP also pushes for the social, legal and technological changes that would make it easier for individuals with disabilities to achieve their dreams.
The Arc organization was founded in the 1950s by parents of children with an array of developmental disabilities. The experiences they had raising children with special needs is what laid the groundwork for their mission and efforts as an organization. The Arc provides support for families and children with CP across the nation. They offer more than 730 state and local chapters.
Easter Seals is a nonprofit organization that provides services for more than one million children and adults with autism and other disabilities, such as cerebral palsy. They provide support services for medical rehabilitation, residential services, job training, child care, adult day programs and camping/recreation. They aim to provide resources that encourage individuals with various disabilities to achieve their goals.
This non-profit organization was founded in 2003. Their mission is to ensure that families and children with special needs have access to support through their extensive community network. They match experienced, trained “Support Parents” with families in need. Their affiliate groups are typically started by parents of children with disabilities who have been through the process before.
Family Voices is a community support organization that promotes quality health care for children and youth with disabilities. They work closely with government leaders and medical professionals at both the national and local levels to ensure that individuals with disabilities have their voices heard.
This online community provides a vast social network for parents and families of children with special needs. Members are able to share information through an online forum available on their website. Parents in this group can offer support, organize local meetups and provide inspiration for other families.
Mommies of Miracles is the world’s largest online support organization for mothers of children with disabilities. Mommies of Miracles provides a network of resources, products and services that help inspire and educate mothers. They also work to match up families in the same area as a way to facilitate a local support system.
Summer camps and playgroups for children with physical and cognitive disabilities are a great option for children with cerebral palsy. These programs help to ensure that children are learning valuable social skills and independence.
Playgroups meet during various times throughout the year and are available in most major U.S. cities. Camps for children with CP are equipped with accessible facilities and experienced staff.
Children in playgroups and camps participate in a number of activities, including swimming, hiking, fishing, crafts, sports and campfires. By taking the focus off of their disability, children with CP can form meaningful friendships and memories.
There is no simple way to determine which community support organization is best for you and your family. For example, some parents may choose to opt for an online support group because it provides encouragement from all across the world. On the other hand, some parents may prefer local meet-ups or playgrounds that offer support in their immediate area.
All community support groups offer a network of families who understand the challenges of raising a child with a disability. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, confused or excited about a recent milestone, having a group to turn to during these times can make all the difference.
If you still have questions about how to find a support group for your family, try downloading our free Cerebral Palsy Guide. This booklet includes information on support options and much more.
Kimberlee is a writer and researcher who is passionate about helping children with disabilities enjoy a happy, healthy life. She works closely with our attorneys to create content that educates the families and caretakers of children with cerebral palsy.