IONIA – As a parent of a child with special needs, Stephanie Herbstreith has always wanted to talk to other parents and caregivers about their similar experiences.
Herbstreith decided to start his own support group in County Ionia – hoping that those who participate can help each other.
A support group for parents and caregivers of children with special needs will meet monthly in County Ionia starting in March.
The support group is scheduled to meet from 5:45-6:45 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness, 375 Apple Tree Drive, Ionia. Meetings are free and without registration.
The dates for the support group are: March 16, April 20, May 18, June 15, July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16 and December 21.
“I hope we can be a group of parents who offer advice to other parents and we can help other parents feel supported in what they are going through with their child’s disability,” Herbstreith said. . “Hopefully we can learn more about other disabilities.”
Anyone seeking more information about the support group can contact Herbstreith at 616-902-5645 or email [email protected]
A Zoom option is available for attendees who cannot attend in person. It is available via an online link or by entering meeting ID 424 884 5047 and passcode 528822.
Herbstreith has an autistic daughter. She contacted her daughter’s therapy center; local schools; and Ionia County Early On, an Ionia County Middle School District program for children with developmental delays, to see if other parents would like to start a support group for children with special needs.
“I often feel like I could use a support group,” she said.
Herbstreith, who works as an assistant clerk in the Ionia County Clerk’s Office, said The Right Door provided a space for the support group to meet in the evenings after the workday.
Having never been involved in a support group before, Herbstreith said she conducted research online to start one. She plans to spend the March 16 meeting asking parents what they want from the support group – whether it’s general advice, monthly topics or an open space to share stories.
“I’m just planning to get an idea of everyone showing up,” Herbstreith said. “That’s what we’re going to do for the first group. This way it can be a support group where everyone can feel supported. »
There have been efforts to start support groups for caregivers of children with special needs in the past that have not materialized, Herbstreith said. She hopes her group will not only support families, but create long-lasting friendships.
“There are several people in schools (County Ionia early on) and in classrooms with special needs who said it was such a great need in County Ionia,” a- she declared.