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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Support for family life

I don't usually use my blog to advertise on behalf of others but today is Autism Awareness Day and Care for the Family posted this on Facebook and it made me think how much they have helped me and my family, as we have journeyed through life.

Care for the Family - Additional Needs group
Care for the Family

Care for the Family is a charity that was launched in 1988 by a lovely Welsh guy called Rob Parsons. He was a lawyer and became affected by the number of people seeking a divorce. He wanted to do something to protect marriages and prevent problems from becoming so serious that divorce was the only option. At a training weekend that I recently attended, they showed a picture of a fence at the top of a cliff. The analogy was that it is better to put protection in place at the top of the cliff than send an ambulance to the bottom. It is better to actively strengthen marriage and family life when things are going well, than to have to pick up the pieces when something has gone wrong.

When Neil and I were newly-weds, we attended our first course by Care for the Family - Marriage Matters. We attended big events with inspirational speakers, including Rob Parsons, and I read loads of the books that Care produce. That input certainly helped us through the ups and downs of normal married life but never more than when our lives were completely changed by my disability. The cliff analogy is certainly true for us. Care taught us how to strengthen our marriage when things were just normal and okay, so that when disaster struck, we were already in the best place to survive it. Of course there is never 100% certainty when you are talking about relationships but our experience is that it is worth giving yourself the best chance.

Care for the Family - Additional Needs

I got involved with this wing of Care for the Family about eighteen months ago. They started a Facebook group and as a mum of a child with Asperger Syndrome, I joined the group. By then, my son was pretty much an adult and although we had experienced some serious challenges in his childhood, he had grown into an amazingly wonderful young man. I often posted positive comments to encourage other mums and dads to hang in there and fight for their child with additional needs because it's well worth it when they come out the other side.

After a while, one of the group leaders asked me to become a befriender. This means that when parents are going through tough times with their additional needs child, they can be paired up with a mum like me to talk and just feel that they are not alone. We can chat on the phone or exchange emails and I love being able to tell other families that their battles will be won and are worth fighting.

If you have a child with any kind of additional need and if life is feeling tough or overwhelming right now, I would strongly recommend getting in touch with Care and asking to be befriended. You can find out more about it here.

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