A program hosted by Therapy Focus is helping parents of children with disabilities come together to share their experiences and connect with others. Called Circle of Security, the program consists of weekly sessions facilitated by qualified therapists who support parents to build positive relationships with their children.
Lisa Cocks recently took part in the program and said that being a single parent and not being able to relate to others was one of the reasons she joined the group.
“I have a 14 year-old son who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s currently going through puberty and can be a real handful,” Lisa said.
“I felt really lost and frustrated, but then hearing what the other parents had to say and being able to relate made all the difference. Even though our children are at completely different stages in life, as parents we’re all kind of at the same stage in this journey.”
Another participant, Rosemary Jesset, has a 6 year-old daughter who has Down Syndrome who doesn’t speak. Rose said that in addition to connecting with other parents, the program helped her gain a better understanding of her daughter’s behaviour.
“For me it was about learning that when a child comes to you, it’s usually for a particular reason. I learnt how to read signs and non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions to understand what she needs from me,” Rose said.
Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist, Tarryn Laver, said it’s not uncommon for parents of children with disabilities to feel like they’re the only one, which is why a support network can be so beneficial to parent wellbeing.
“These parents ultimately realise they’re facing the same challenges. And by discussing these challenges with one another they gain greater understanding of their strengths, areas that need development, and their own emotional needs,” Tarryn said.
One parent who’s seen positive changes in terms of both her own wellbeing and that of her 8 year-old daughter is Joanne Harding. Joanne said she joined the group in an effort to approach parenting in a more positive manner.
“The group encourages you to be reflective in terms of your parenting, and I love the idea of no blame, no guilt because you can easily find yourself in that kind of a scenario,” Joanne said.
“I’ve been able to use a whole set of new strategies, which have worked really well so far. I’ve surprised myself and I think my daughter is also surprised at how mummy approaches things differently now.”
For more information about the Circle of Security program, or to express an interest in attending, please contact Tarryn Laver on (08) 6240 6500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured (L-R): Katie, Rose, Jo, Tarryn, Lisa and Donna.