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Parent peer support is important for families with children who have learning disabilities

Parent peer support is needed by families with children who have a learning disability to give practical, social and emotional help

Parent peer support is needed by families with children who have a learning disability to give practical, social and emotional help

Families with children who have a learning disability should be able to access parent peer support programmes that provide practical, social and emotional support based on shared experiences and complement the work of professionals, a study suggests.

Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 13 mothers of children with a learning disability, ranging from preschool age to young adulthood, who presented with challenging behaviours.

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Parent peer support is needed by families with children who have a learning disability to give practical, social and emotional help

Picture shows several women sitting facing each other in a group conversation. A study shows parent peer support is needed by families with children who have a learning disability to give practical, social and emotional help.
Picture: iStock

Families with children who have a learning disability should be able to access parent peer support programmes that provide practical, social and emotional support based on shared experiences and complement the work of professionals, a study suggests.

Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 13 mothers of children with a learning disability, ranging from preschool age to young adulthood, who presented with challenging behaviours.

Participants described contact with services and other support groups before the parent peer support programme started as unhelpful, traumatic and socially isolating.

They all said that joining the programme had made a positive difference to their lives, with evidence of an enhanced sense of belonging, increased confidence, control and agency, and personal growth.

Coordinator gave families emotional and practical support

A paid peer support coordinator was felt to be critical to the study. The coordinator had good knowledge of all the families registered with the scheme, maintaining regular contact and providing emotional and practical support.

A range of opportunities for peer engagement – including social events, using a closed Facebook group and a training workshop – were felt to be important in allowing parents to access support when needed.


Reference

Dew A, Collings S, Dowse L et al (2019) ‘I don’t feel like I’m in this on my own’: Peer support for mothers of children with intellectual disability and challenging behaviour. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. 23, 3, 344-358.


Picture of Dave Atkinson, who is an independent consultant nurse. In this article he reviews a study showing parent peer support is needed by families with children who have a learning disability.Dave Atkinson is an independent consultant nurse

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