What is a Support Group?
Support groups function as a way for children with birth injuries, as well as their parents and caregivers, to receive emotional support. Medical professionals typically are not trained to give emotional support. Although family and friends generally can give this kind of support, they may not be knowledgeable about birth injuries.
Support groups allow individuals with common experiences to share their emotions, coping strategies and knowledge of how treatments have worked for their child over time. This can be valuable for parents who are looking to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of new treatment strategies.
Caring for children with birth injuries can be a full-time job, and that stress can wear on a parent in difficult ways. It is important for parents of children with birth injuries to care for their own mental and emotional health, and support groups are a powerful and productive outlet.
There are many different types of support groups, and the internet has made them more accessible than ever before. There are still traditional in-person support groups in many American cities that meet in a physical location. Still, many support groups today congregate online in Facebook groups and in online forums.
Types of Support Groups
There are several different types of support groups for children with birth injuries and their parents and caregivers. The best type of support group for your child may depend on their needs, location and preferences.
Support Groups for the Affected Child
There are many support groups for children with birth injuries. These support groups may be in-person or online. These groups often discuss how to live with the injury and the success of rehabilitative treatments.
Support Groups for Families
Support groups for family members allow family the opportunity to get emotional support and discuss their experiences. Caring for a child with a birth injury can be challenging. By attending a support group, families and caregivers can help keep their own mental well-being in check.
In-Person Support Groups
In-person support groups meet at physical locations on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Generally, these groups will be led by an individual who moderates the discussion and gives everyone an opportunity to speak and have their questions answered.
In this type of support group, members will take turns speaking as the rest of the group listens. There may be separate chats happening on the sidelines before the meeting starts or after it ends.
Online Support Groups
Today, you can find numerous online support groups on Facebook. However, there are a few online support groups that use online forums.
Facebook support groups are a bit different than in-person meetings. Facebook group members can post at any time of day, and their group is not limited by geography. While in-person support groups are smaller and more intimate, online support groups tend to be larger and more open.
How Support Groups Can Help
Support groups offer many benefits to children with birth injuries, as well as their parents and caregivers. Support groups can provide advice, additional resources and new insight into potential treatments. They provide emotional support and allow children with birth injuries and their parents to become part of a community.
Support group members can express their feelings without judgement. Sharing your experiences with others who have dealt with similar situations can also reduce stress and help children with birth injuries feel more understood and heard.
Suffering from a birth injury or caring for someone who has one is an extremely stressful situation. The emotional support provided by support groups can have a positive impact on one’s mental health and outlook on life.
Support Groups for Birth Injuries
Some birth injury support groups do not have a specific focus, but many cater to a specific type of birth injury. For instance, there are support groups specifically for people with cerebral palsy, as well as groups that focus on Erb’s palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Support Groups
Cerebral palsy support groups give parents, caregivers and children affected by the condition an outlet for emotional support. Members often exchange personal experiences and treatment stories.
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is an example of a national organization that offers in-person cerebral palsy support groups. However, these types of groups can also be found online by searching Facebook. Popular groups include “Cerebral Palsy Support Group,” which has over 8,000 members, “Mild Cerebral Palsy Parent Support Group,” which has over 3,000 members, and “Cerebral Palsy Support Group for Adults,” which has over 1,000 members.
Erb’s Palsy Support Groups
Erb’s palsy support groups give members emotional support and provide them with hope. The real-world information offered in these groups can help parents and children find additional resources and treatments.
There are several national organizations that help parents and caregivers find Erb’s palsy support groups. These include the United Brachial Plexus Network, the Brachial Plexus Palsy Foundation, Mothers United for Moral Support and The Birth Trauma Association.
In addition, there are several Erb’s palsy support groups on Facebook with over 1,000 members that can be joined instantly.
Support Groups for Other Birth Injuries
Support groups also exist for other birth injuries, including brain damage and facial paralysis. Virtually every injury has support groups that offer emotional support both in-person and online. Local health care institutions and nonprofit organizations can help you find support groups for rare illnesses and birth injuries. United Cerebral Palsy, Cerebral Palsy Family Network, Disability Awareness and Cerebral Palsy Support Network are all cerebral palsy focused organizations that provide support services and information about treatments and resources.
How to Find a Support Group
Support groups are often associated with local hospitals, medical facilities or nonprofit health organizations. United Cerebral Palsy has listings for groups in every state and U.S. territory. Other national groups, such as The Arc, Easter Seals and Parent to Parent USA, also offer affiliate programs and support groups around the country.
A family in need of immediate access to a support group can join the “Cerebral Palsy Support Group” on Facebook. This group will allow children with cerebral palsy and their parents to begin discussing treatments, financial resources and support strategies with thousands of other families with similar experiences.
Children’s Cerebral Palsy Movement is an organization that offers local and professionally facilitated support groups in Orange County, California. A family looking for an in-person cerebral palsy support group can visit the United Cerebral Palsy organization’s website in order to find a local affiliate group for support.
It is relatively easy to find online Facebook support groups. For example, there are several cerebral palsy support groups on Facebook with over 1,000 members. You can join a Facebook support group immediately. You can also give a call to a healthcare organization or nonprofit to find a local in-person option.
Support Groups are Beneficial to Parents and Children
Support groups offer a number of benefits to parents and caregivers of children with birth injuries. These groups allow parents to talk to others with similar experiences who can provide the emotional support that medical professionals often cannot.
Support groups are also a powerful tool for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. They can help with their emotional well-being and provide them with an outlet for their stress. Children with cerebral palsy can make new friends in support groups and learn about potential resources and coping strategies. Many children who take part in cerebral palsy support groups continue to do so as they grow into adults.
The internet has made it much easier for parents and caregivers to find an interactive support group on social media websites such as Facebook. If your child has suffered a birth injury, it is important to make sure that you also take care of your own mental and emotional health.