The Internet: Whole New World for Parents of Children with Disabilities

The Internet: A Whole New World for Parents of Children with Disabilities

Children are demanding at the best of times, particularly when they are young. Their needs have to come first, and parents can feel dejected, tired, stressed, or unhappy; their life is no longer their own; they are responsible for somebody else’s comfort and happiness around the clock. When disability is a factor, whether this be an incapacity, an affliction, or an illness, things can be even more difficult. Children with disabilities may require care that is above and beyond that of another child of the same age, parents are burdened with more demands financially, there are extra appointments to attend and medication to administer, and at times the day can feel unrewarding. The internet and social media can be extremely instrumental in providing support, both emotional and practical, to parents with children of all ages – and particularly to those caring for children with a disability.


How the internet provides help and support


The internet provides an almost endless means of information as more research is conducted and fresh articles and studies are published. For example, Lindsey M Stone‘s website provides a range of information on autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The aim of the website is to promote awareness and to improve the lives of those who live with the disorder. It discusses what ASD is, and looks at some of the signs and symptoms; a parent who is concerned about their child’s development or reactions will find it useful to gain a broad understanding of how ASD can present behavioral, social and communicative challenges.


Lindsey Stone’s website looks at organizations that specialize in autism and provides links to their websites, and looks at advocacy campaigns and research. Parents can find organizations and charities specific to their child’s disability and obtain information from their websites. Often, websites enable members to make contact, start a discussion, contribute to a forum, or put a question to a community advisor who specializes in a specific area.


The internet can:


  • Give details of health and service providers, their location, and a means of contacting them.


  • Provide information on the accessibility of medical equipment in an area.


  • Be a means to order, review, and pay for prescriptions online, and to make appointments.


  • Enable research into a condition, the management of symptoms, medication, and alternative remedies.


  • Give information on benefits and a means to apply; explain rights with regards to schooling, education, and support for a child with special educational needs.


The benefits of social media


Social media allows people to chat, joke, share stories, and generally relax, without having to leave home. A person who has had time to unwind will function better and be better able to cope. Parents can talk to other parents in similar circumstances – complete strangers who may live too far away for a face-to-face meeting to be practical. Skype, conference calls, or online meetings can help to remedy feelings of isolation. Parents can share practical hints and tips, and can benefit from the advice of someone who has actually been there, experienced it, and come out the other side.

[Tweet “Social media provides a way to vent, laugh, or reach out for support, and being better able to cope!”]

Many parents looking after a child with a disability report feelings of isolation and suffer from stress and anxiety, with many being prescribed antidepressants. The strain of looking after a young person who needs you at all hours, and being responsible for their physical health, mental wellbeing, and their education and learning opportunities, can be immense. The assistance offered by the internet in keeping us well informed from the comfort of home is invaluable. As for social media, providing an outlet to let off steam, look at the lighthearted side of life, or reach out for support, means that a caregiver feels better able to cope. It is a knock-on effect – the benefits of a more relaxed parent are then felt by the child: and that is priceless.


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