Success Story: Family Support & Advocacy Program helps relieve stress and anxiety

mom relaxing

Parenting in and of itself is challenging.

But the added pressure that comes with having a child with disabilities often leaves parents sinking in a boatload of stress and anxiety.

This was the case for a parent who wishes to remain anonymous as she was struggling to navigate her new lifestyle as a parent of a child with autism.

When she discovered Parent Network of WNY, she says she finally began to find the answers to her questions. She said Parent Network’s Family Support Services Manager Theresa Veprek and 1-On-1 Support Manager Lyn Haggerty helped her to realize she was “not alone” in her struggles. She said her life with her daughter would be “completely different” without Parent Network.

“I was able to get the resources I needed. I was able to have advocates. When I go into an IEP meeting, having somebody there to take notes, to listen or to review any anxieties that I have has made all the difference in the world. When I tell you, I don’t know where I would be without the Family Support & Advocacy Program, I’m not kidding you.”

Because of Parent Network, she said she learned how to advocate for her daughter in meetings and in classroom settings after being able to express her concerns with Lyn & Theresa.

“When I didn’t understand why the school district wanted to put my daughter into a classroom that I don’t feel accommodates her needs and they would say things to me like ‘let’s look at the paperwork, let’s look at her IEP, you can discuss why as a parent you’re not comfortable with this specific classroom setting for her. You can request an increase in services if you feel that’s necessary for your daughter. You can switch your speech therapist if you’re not happy with them for early intervention,’ she said.

These may not seem like a big deal to somebody from the outside looking in on this situation, she added.

But as a parent, “when you feel obligated to give your daughter or son the best possible environment especially when they’re younger for these critical years to make sure they’re getting the resources that they need, you really feel a certain type of almost pressure because you feel these decisions are going to make a bigger impact than you would without a kid with a disability,” she said.

She recommends Parent Network to parents and caregivers who are struggling and do not know how to advocate for their child or get them the best services that they deserve. She believes they need to be connected with an organization that is not only “professional” but has individuals who with “lived experiences and who will guide parents and are truly compassionate about making the world for kids with disabilities a better place.”

“Theresa and Lyn probably think they are just doing their jobs, but they’re not just doing a job. They are passionate. They are everything that a parent needs to feel comfortable to have the tools they need for child. To know if I have a question and may feel silly asking, there’s no judgement. I don’t have to wait for paperwork 20 days later. They’re diligent, they’re organized. They’re informative. They know and have lived experiences which is what makes a huge difference. That puts Parent Network at a different caliber as far as professionalism goes,” she said

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