The perceived effects of parent-led support groups for parents of children with disabilities.
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Parent-led support groups for parents who have children with disabilities are voluntary organizations with goals to provide social support and information and to foster advocacy. The purpose of this study was to explore parents' perceptions of the effect of parent-led support groups in providing parents with support and knowledge and in improving parents' ability to deal with childhood disability issues. Qualitative methods were used to examine the experiences of members of nine parent-run support groups. From these groups, 20 parents were interviewed about the benefits and limitations of participation in support group. Information was also collected by observing support group meetings and reviewing group documents. Interview, observation, and document data were analysed to identify emerging themes. Results of the study indicated that the effects of belonging to a parent-led parent support group were substantial. Through these groups, parents gain increased skills, an increased sense of power and a sense of belonging. Participants are able to connect with each other and provide support and skills to deal with the day-to-day issues of raising a child with disabilities.
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