Building intentional community simply means creating a circle of support for yourself, your family and your child. There are many ways this support can help you. For instance, the other members of your community can share their energy when you are low on energy and their ideas when you are short on ideas. They can supply resources and connections, inspiration, fun and social opportunity, understanding and empathy. In short, they can provide all the things that support the life of a family facing unexpected challenges. Sometimes the family of a child with disabilities can let themselves become isolated. The intentional community lets these families reach out to others and share the difficulties—and the many joys—of parenting a child with disabilities.
To find people you can invite to join your intentional community, ask yourselves these questions:
- Who are the people in your life who give you support and encouragement?
- Who are the people who connect with and care for your child?
- Who outside your immediate family and school community knows your child well?
- Open up your life to neighbors, church members, old friends, extended family. Give them a way to help you and get to know your child.
- Find and practice a simple way to explain your child’s diagnosis and share it with people in your life.
- Ask for the involvement of others based on your child's assets instead of her needs.
If you invite someone to become involved in your circle of support, and they turn you down, don't take it personally—just ask someone else. Some people don’t have the capability to offer the support you need. Celebrate those who do.
See Person-Centered Planning for Your Child on this site to learn more about another approach to personal care networks.
Join a parent listserv for parents of children with disabilities. Texas Parent to Parent lists a wide selection of listservs for parents like you.
Download How to Build a Personal Network (PDF), also from Texas Parent to Parent.
By Rosemary Alexander, PhD, Texas Parent to Parent (www.txp2p.org)