Being a single parent will always be challenging. If you are a single parent of a child that has a disability of some kind you may find that the challenges are even more severe and that you may even feel overwhelmed at times. There are, however, a number structures aimed at giving support for single parents with disabled children. There are also a number of structures in place not aimed at single parents specifically, but, from which single parents with a child that has a disability of some kind, can benefit. It is certainly challenging to raise a child with a disability on your own, but it is also very rewarding. It is also something that is possible to achieve, no matter how despondent or despairing you feel. You do not have to do it alone. There are plenty of support structures in place. Friends and family will also be more than willing to help you with your child and with the other needs that will arise. Ask and thou shall receive.
Protection And Advocacy
You may not be aware that the government is there partially to provide support for single parents with disabled children. There are a number of governmental programs and schemes that you and your children may be able to benefit from and if you are eligible for this support you should definitely make use of it. The US government provides Developmental Disabilities Basic Support and Advocacy Grants. Grants are sums of money that you are given when you can demonstrate that you have sufficient need for the assistance. In addition these grants are not the same as loans in that you will never have to repay the cash assistance that you receive. Through this grant system we have the Protection and Advocacy System. This system is aimed at helping:
- Disabled people who suffer from mental disabilities that became evident before the age of 22.
- Disabled people who suffer from physical disabilities that became evident before the age of 22.
- Disabled people who suffer from both mental and physical disabilities that became evident before the age of 22.
The disability has to be severe enough to make the child dependent on someone else (such as you, his single parent) for the rest of his life.
The US government has a strong focus on helping single parents who have children with disabilities by providing them with financial grants. These grants are in the form of:
- Financial assistance
- Exclusive education endowments
The government states that the primary purpose of these grants is “to assist State educational agencies in reforming and improving their systems for personnel preparation and professional development in early intervention, educational and transition services, to improve results for children with disabilities.” This is a very useful system to keep in mind. The reason for this is because education for children with disabilities can be very pricey and most single parents will not be able to necessarily afford it easily. The government is aware of this problem, and, as a result of this awareness, provides money to single and married parents with disabled children specifically to pay for their education. Children with disabilities often need special education requirements so it is necessary to pay the extra premium in order to ensure that your child gets the best shot at life possible despite his or her ailment. The government is there to help you achieve this.
The IDEA Program
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) program has been described as an effective agenda for addressing the needs of the disabled population in the country, and it is certainly a resource that single parents with disabled children can turn to if they are looking for some help in coping with their situation. This program works by the government providing money to educational institutions to ensure that those institutions will be able to cater to the various needs of children with disabilities who would like to study there. For example this could be used to install wheelchair ramps at a school or to establish a special needs class. The money is very useful and, although this is not given directly to single parents with disabled children. It is something that you could campaign for or that you could make your local school aware of. Your local school may already be benefiting form this, so be sure to find out more. However money can also be given to qualified parents and their children in order to directly ensure that the disabled child in question receives adequate education and that he or she has the best shot at life possible despite his or her condition.
Assistance For Ethnic Minorities
Certain ethnic minorities can be helped by the United States Department of the Interior. These are:
- Citizens of American Indian descent, and
- Citizens of Native Alaskan descent
If you are a single mother with a child that can be classified as either of the above and your child has a disability that renders him or her as a dependent on you entirely, you can benefit from the grant money offered by this program. The money is given in order to pay for two main costs associated with having a child with a disability:
- It covers education costs
- It costs related to equipment made necessary by the disability
The grants programs mentioned here are just a few of the examples that the government has to offer. Remember that at state level as well you may be able to qualify for some support for single parents with disabled children programs. There are also numerous private organizations that you could apply to for help if your primary concern is money to pay for your child’s equipment, care, or schooling, or just in order to maintain a decent standard of living for both you and your disabled child.
Parent To Parent USA
This group is also known as P2P USA. Essentially how this group works is that single parents who are struggling and who have questions about how to raise their child with a disability are put in contact with parents who are already successful at raising children that have disabilities. It is like a counseling session, except that the person who is ‘counseling’ you is speaking from a position of first-hand experience. You can willingly join this group, and you may also be referred. Matches are made between experienced and inexperienced parents who have children with the same or a similar disability. If you would like to find out more about this organization, which is national and can be found in just about every state across the country, you should take the time to visit the organization’s website. A good place to start is the FAQ page of Parent to Parent USA which can be found by following his URL. If you cannot click on the URL, simply copy and paste it into the URL bar.
Parents Helping Parents
If you live in California you may have the opportunity to benefit from the Parents Helping Parents group, which is also known simply as PHP. This group provides:
- Parent-driven local support groups for caregivers of special needs children, as well as
- Transnational support groups for caregivers of special needs children
The group chooses to sponsor and represent:
- A wide range of special interest groups across the country
- A large number of local support groups across the country
As a single parent who is raising a child with a disability you may well be able to benefit from this situation.
- An intensive catalogue of book resources for both experts and parents
- An intensive catalogue of video resources for both experts and parents
These resources have been invaluable in helping many single parents meet the challenges of raising a child with disabilities easily. If you want to know more about this organization, the web is a good place to start your search. The organizations’ FAQ page, a useful place to start your search, can be found at http://www.php.com/faqs and provides you with most of the basic information you will need.
There is a great website called meetup.com where you can meet up with a number of different people in a number of different situations. There is a meet up section on the site specifically for moms with kids that have disabilities but there is only one group that has taken off and it is Successful Single Moms, LLC, in Columbus, OH. There are single moms interested in creating groups in the following areas, however, so if you live here you may want to express your interest and get a group started:
- Brentwood, TN
- Del Mar, CA
- Denver, CO
- East Lyme, CT
- Emporia, KS
- Garnerville, NY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Middletown, NJ
- Phoenix, AZ
- Raleigh, NC
- Randleman, NC
- Sale Creek, TN
- San Antonio, TX
- San Rafael, CA
- Seattle, WA
- South Ozone Park, NY
- Surrey, BC, Canada
- Taylors, SC
- Torrance, CA
- Uniondale, NY
On the dame site there is also a meet up group for parents with kids who have special needs. The top 3 are:
- The Austin Asperger’s Support Group in Austin, TX
- Autism Society of Tidewater Virginia meet up group in Norfolk, VA
- Meetup Mothers of Autism (Asperger’s, SPD,PDD-NOS) in Plainfield, IL
However there are also plenty of other groups to choose from.
Another source of support for single parents with disabled children comes in the form of EParent. EParent stands for “Exceptional Parent”, the name of the magazine that the organization produces. The magazine is aimed at helping various people who function within the disabilities realm including:
- Parents within the special needs community
- Teachers within the special needs community
- Professionals within the special needs community
The organization provides referral resources for single parents in this position to use in order to find out more about their child’s condition and how to raise that child. The organization has a bookstore for this purpose. It also provides single parents (as well as any other parents or caregivers with children with a disability) with a list of support groups and resources that they can turn to if they feel that they need outside assistance. They also upload special talks online by professionals who are experts in the special needs arena that you will be able to watch in order to better understand your child’s condition and to consequently do a better job of being a good parent to your child to the best of your ability.
In general, then, there are two main sources of help that you can turn to when looking for support for single parents with disabled children. Firstly you can turn to the government and look into the various federal grants that are available for parents that have a child that is disabled in some way. These grants are many and the least you can do is apply to see if you and your child are eligible. Secondly you can attend support groups and get together with other single parents and married parents that have children with disabilities. This can be invaluable not only for the support function that it serves, but also because these Meetups are great places to learn what coping methods single parents in similar situations to yourself have been using to cope. In this way you can learn both what to do and what not to do when raising your child with a disability. Single parents tend to labor under the illusion that they are alone, and single patens with disabled children even more so, this is simply not the case. You will find all the help that you need if you choose to look for it.