When parents are told that a son or daughter has a developmental delay or a disability, it can be a lonely and confusing time. Suddenly they are faced with a new set of challenges, as well as anxiety about the obstacles their child will likely encounter in the future.
That’s why United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is pioneering an initiative called My Child Without Limits (MCWL), which provides parents of newly diagnosed children, five years old or younger, with critical information, while connecting them to a vital social network of parents.
Those parents who have been assisted by UCP’s new program report that the information and advice offered by MCWL affiliates has represented a significant turning point for them, helping them to fully understand the diagnosis and to appropriately care for their child.
Evidence shows that early diagnosis, early intervention and targeted education are critical to a child’s ability to reach his or her full potential. But when first presented with an initial diagnosis of a disability, parents, caregivers and professionals may turn to the Internet for information, which often proves inadequate to meet all of their needs.
To fully support parents of children with developmental delays or disabilities, UCP designed MCWL to be the premier resource. The program aims to enhance a child’s development by providing one-stop, disability-related health information to families and caregivers. MCWL’s portal brings together reliable information, allowing families and caregivers to become knowledgeable partners in the lives of their children. The program bridges the information gap by linking comprehensive Internet resources, social networking and regional training.
The website is a comprehensive early intervention resource, and provides access to accurate, user-friendly and relevant disability-related information. Aside from the resource guides, there’s expert opinion on early intervention and family support. The site offers a forum for training UCP staff and industry professionals, and access to outreach materials for the larger, caregiving community.
An online community creates a sense of support for families facing challenging emotional and psychological times. This moderated online group will facilitate connections between caregivers and family members through an open-source platform of integrated newsletters, blogs and discussion boards. The moderated format helps to ensure that blog and discussion board entries contain accurate information and that community rules are followed. Families and caregivers can share experiences, information, and practical ideas to empower them to make informed decisions. Additionally, the online community is an ideal forum to cultivate new advocates. It further unifies disability voices to promote real change.
Both the website and the social networking components of MCWL are designed to work independently or in conjunction with each other to ultimately empower families and caregivers of children with disabilities with the necessary education, resources and support needed.
“My Child Without Limits will be the one-stop shop for parents and professionals, and will help children with disabilities start achieving a life without limits at an early age,” says Stephen Bennett, UCP president & CEO.
Every day, the organization’s affiliates serve more than 176,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families—the majority of whom have a disability other than cerebral palsy. MCWL furthers the national UCP initiative to create a Life Without Limits for people with disabilities by reaching them as early as possible and helping them and their families create their own vision of the future through self-determination and selfempowerment.
The expert resource portion of the My Child Without Limits website will launch soon. In the meantime, you can join the online community today.