Growing Together: A Helping Hand for Parents with Special Needs
A new baby means new responsibilities: doctors' appointments, menu planning, finding a good child care program. Although for almost any new parent this can be a daunting prospect, for new parents with intellectual disabilities, special support and guidance is critical to providing safe, supportive, and nurturing family environments for their children.
In response to this need, PACT: Helping Children With Special Needs developed Growing Together, a parenting program for mothers and fathers with intellectual disabilities who have children under the age of three. The program is funded and licensed by the State Developmental Disabilities Administration and is the only parenting program of this type in Maryland.
The staff at Growing Together teach parenting and independent living skills, measure children's developmental progress, and can also help secure a variety of therapy services, when needed.
The program also offers a curriculum guide as well as training and consultation to other organizations serving parents with intellectual disabilities.
For parents like Quan Harris-Thornton this program is invaluable.
"Growing Together helped me learn how to do health things and how to budget for food shopping," says Quan. As a result, "My son is more outgoing and cooperative than he was before. He is learning how to do more because of the arts and crafts in the class. My daughter is also becoming more alert. She's even learned how to clap her hands during songs. It's a wonderful place to be."