I learned about Parent to Parent when our daughter was first given a Speech/Language Impairment diagnosis at age 3. I easily noticed her expressive language delay as I was previously an elementary special education teacher in a Speech/Language Support classroom. Improving the school and social experiences of children with disabilities has been a career-long passion of mine. What a world of difference, however, there is from teaching these wonderful kiddos compared with my own children, who both have special needs. My daughter, 6, now has an autism diagnosis in addition to speech/language delay; my son, 4, has sensory integration disorder and ADHD, as well as a connective tissue disorder and congenital glaucoma. My husband of 12 years and I have our hands (and hearts) full while parenting these two energetic and bright personalities.

I have had many great matches with parents of other kiddos who have Speech/Language Impairment, Autism, and ADHD. Becoming a peer supporter has been such an enriching and fulfilling experience for me. My time as a special education teacher and my current work as special education faculty at Penn State has me equipped with a perspective on disability and special education that most parents do not have prior to having a child who receives a diagnosis. Even though my career is focused on supporting children with disabilities, I still struggle with a lot of the same confusions, fears, and frustrations that other parents face. Parents first receiving a diagnosis often have to learn a whole new language, and I hope that I’ve been able to offer some of my knowledge and emotional support to parents who might be facing this unique landscape, often without anyone in their immediate circle who understands. I have been connected with some wonderful matches who help me feel understood and I really look forward to continuing on as a peer supporter with Parent to Parent of PA.

 

— Kaleena Selfridge