Group provides support, resources for parents of special needs children
BY BRIDGETT NESBIT
Families with special needs children in search of a safe haven to gather, learn from support services professionals and other parents gathered on Saturday morning at First Presbyterian Church.
They discussed available resources, tools and techniques for raising their children.
That's exactly what Amy Spears, a Habilitation Specialist III with Children's Development Services Agency and founder of the Children with Down Syndrome Support Group, was hoping for.
The morning event was just the group's second meeting, but Spears has been working behind the scenes for over 25 years to connect families with support groups and services.
"It's a way to get to know one another and share because there are alot of families in Iredell with children with special needs," Spears said. "Linking resources like therapists, support agencies that offer tips and educational tools and a listening ear through networking are priceless for parents."
More than 30 people, including parents and children, attended the event.
Presentations were given from Lisa Pullis of Iredell Partnership for Children, Amiee Combs of the Exceptional Children's Assistance Center, and Pam Manser and Rachel Banger of Pam Manser & Associates of Lake Norman.
Beatrice Carvajal, 26, brought her family so they could support Spears. Carvajal's 1-year-old daughter, Janeth Martinez, 1, has Down syndrome.
"Amy invited me. She's been very helpful by always calling and checking on my baby and family," Carvajal said.
Jason and Kristin Jones are excited that Spears has created an atomsphere of bonding and support. Their 4-month-old daughter, Wren, has Down syndrome.
Kristin, a pediatric occupation therapist, knows the challenges of raising a special needs child and helping families are in thesame position.
"She's our beautiful blessing and we want to learn all the tools, new findings, resources and speakers available," Kristin said.
On Thursday Kristin is partnering with with Amiee Combs, a parent educator at ECAC, for a Facebook live demonstration of how to feed a child with special needs. To see the demonstration on Facebook visit, https://www.facebook.com/ecacparentcenter/
Combs is excited about new ways to reach out and the chance to work with old friends.
She met Spears 17 years ago when she sought services for her son.
"I've also known Kristin for years so it's beautiful how the resources are growing in outreach and coming in full curcle," Combs said.
Contact Amy Spears at amy.spears@Hotmail.com
For more on support agencies:
TEACHING PARENTS TO TEACH: Pam Manser & Associates will offer training sessions for parents and tons of learning tips. For more information visit www.lkncom.com
NEWSLETTER AND BOOK CHECK OUTS: ECAC offers a vast learning library for children with special needs. For more information, visit: www.ecac-parentcenter.org