First I want to than Amryn for asking for my input and words for this blog. I am excited to help out with any support to families raising these very challenging kiddos. Amryn has asked me to write a little about the support group I run, what we do and why.
My name is Lindsay Bartholomew, I am the co-founder of Utah Easy to Love a support group for parents raising children with specail needs. I am also most importantly mom to Emma, she almost 6 and a spunky little spit fire. Emma was the baby people don’t tell you about. She was born screaming and never stopped. She had several medical issues in the beginning and as she got a little older we also started struggling with behavioral, developmental and mental health issues. I never saw my friends anymore, I never went anywhere and literally fell off the grid. Nobody understood what I was going through and I was so exhausted I just shut off.
At almost 3, Emma started attending a therapeutic preschool at The Children’s Center. It is there that I met Jennifer Levy. We struck up a conversation because our children were in the same class. In the first few months we would grab a coffee and chat. It was amazing how much better I felt being able to connect with someone who understood the struggles we were facing. We started on the hunt for a support group and found quickly that non really existed. Not what we were looking for. We wanted a room of parents swapping ideas, support and hope. We also wanted a group that was not diagnosis specific. There are so many children who look “normal” but struggle so much. These kids with invisible disabilities can be so challenging! It is hard when people assume because they don’t look like there is something wrong, it must be the parents doing something wrong.
After about 6 months we finally decided we would start our own. In July 2011 we held our first support group in Salt Lake, a few months later we expanded into Davis County. Now we continue to hold both Salt Lake and Davis, have become a non-profit and are hosting workshops, retreats and special needs family friendly events.
To provide a place for parents and family members to meet monthly and share experience, strength, give hope and awareness, to other families who have similar experiences raising children with ASD, ADD/ADHD, SPD, Anxiety and other mental health, developmental, medical or behavioral struggles. Through sharing in this experience of raising these ‘hard to raise’ kids, we grow stronger and more resilient.