Practical and emotional support is available to families who have a son, daughter or other family member with Down syndrome. This can happen in a number of different ways.
New Parent Support
Providing support to parents with a new baby is a crucial part of the support provided by Down Syndrome WA. It can be a very difficult and uncertain time for families who have just found out that their baby has Down syndrome. There can be a lot of questions, concerns and fears for the future. In those early days it is very reassuring to touch base with someone who has been through the same experience and to know that you are not alone. Initial contact often occurs via our telephone Helpline and can come from the new parents, from hospital staff or from extended family and friends.
New parent support can involve setting up contacts with other families, discussing medical issues and later on developmental milestones or information about therapy services. New parent morning teas are held regularly at the DSWA Drop-in centre and can also be arranged if needed. Families have the chance to meet other new parents and to share their experiences.
Support and information is also given to parents who are expecting a child with Down syndrome, as well as those who are worried about the results of testing. It is possible to put people in touch with other parents who have experienced the same situation.
Many people call the Helpline or visit the Drop in Centre to discuss issues of concern to them. This can be at any time in their son's or daughter's development, at key life stages such as in early childhood, at times of transition and in adulthood. Detailed discussions can occur on a wide range of topics.
Requests for information are frequently made and this can be provided over the phone or can be mailed out to people. Informative articles appear in our newsletter, resources are available in our library and online information recommended. Seminars and workshops are run for parents from time to time.
Networking with other families can occur at any stage or at any time there is a need. If families feel isolated or if their son or daughter needs conact with someone in the same age group, they can be connected to other families or existing groups. Special interest groups can be set up where there is an interest or need.
A number of events are held throughout the year which bring families together to socialise. These include coffee mornings, picnics, socials, dinners, Christmas party, Family Fun Day and other events.
Fundraising activities also provide opportunities for families to come together with a common purpose and desire to make a contribution. Some of our regular fundraisers include the Butterfly Charity Ball, Buddy Walk, Tea for 321, as well as producing and selling an annual calendar and other merchandise.
Families often find they need to talk about education options, schooling or behaviour issues. They can access practical support and information through the Helpline. Where needed, experienced staff can visit schools to talk with student groups, parent groups or to trouble shoot behaviours with a class teacher.
Down Syndrome WA also has a training and consultancy service available to teaching staff. Professional Development workshops for teachers are run early in the school year and advertised through schools and DSWA newsletters. Training packages can be delivered for a fee to teaching and support staff, or to the entire school staff group, on request.