By Kodey Toney
You Are Not Alone
This week I want to talk about community. I know that this may seem like an obvious subject to some, but building a community around you and your child with a disability will help make your life easier.
I was reminded how important a strong community is this weekend when we held the Annual Skate Slam in Heavener and Poteau. The people involved in the three-day event were awesome in getting things organized and getting the word out. There were more than 100 participants, vendors, and organizers, and each worked in harmony to make the weekend go smoothly. This was because of the group that organized the event. Lisa Fabian, Darrin Zdanowski, JD Danielson, Charles Steiger, Peter Whitley, and everybody else involved (I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of people), worked together to make things happen.
That got me thinking about how this is the same with families with disabilities. You have to have a strong core group to make the other parts of your world work together. That community controls what happens in the life of your child, so you have to try to find that harmony for things to work right.
First you have to build your community. This can, and probably will, include family members, therapists, counselors, teachers, administrators, doctors, and other families.
Some of these seem obvious, but you must get your family members, both immediate and otherwise, on board with what’s going on. This affects everything from family get-togethers, to emergencies, to just having some alone time (who knows what that really means).
The school is a good example of harmonious communities. You have to keep this in mind in order to get the resources you need for your child. This may be the one that tests your limits a little, but I promise that if you keep them in your community and on your team things will be good for you and your child.
You must find others that have been through what you have. This will be a great part of your community. This works in so many ways. Support groups like the local Parents of Autism are great for just finding out what is available in the area, and they are a good sounding board to vent to. The Oklahoma Family Network is designed just for this type of support. They will match families to other families in their area to share resources and stories.
You have to understand that you are not in this thing alone. Sometimes it feels that way, but you will always have someone who has been there and seen some of the same things you have. We all have different stories, but in the end it’s all very alike.