Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Perhaps it's my age, but I am the kind of person who likes to help others rather than "ask" for help. It took me a long time to realize what a mistake this is. I don't think it was my pride. Maybe it was the fact I didn't want to bother anyone with my troubles. Or perhaps I was afraid to take down the mask I was wearing that said, "I got this, I'm good...no worries."
My husband, Dom, encouraged me to join parent groups to get advice and guidance. I resisted for years due to exhaustion. I didn't want to pick up a phone or log on to the computer after a full day of work, and mothering a child with special needs (my second full-time job, as parents of special needs kids know). I just didn't have the energy. How ironic that I was always available to answer questions or listen deeply for others. Hmmmmm....
One day I joined a local parent support group that met in a nearby library. I was amazed at all the information that the other parents and guest speakers were providing. I thought, "I was wrong for waiting this long...there is so much more help out there than I realized!" When the group dissolved, I approached two other moms and "asked" them to help me start a group of our own since I saw the value in coming together on a regular basis. What a blessing they said, "yes" because we have been helping ourselves and others on a consistent basis.
I recently found myself in a new circumstance where I needed to put myself out there and ask questions again. New sudden challenges produce new needs that require immediate answers. Initially, I joined four Facebook Parent Groups for Special Needs and just observed other's questions and/or comments to learn; although I did answer other's questions if I felt I had good advice to offer. Again, I was still holding back "asking" for what I needed to know; staying in my comfort zone. But when a bigger challenge came, it forced me to be an active participant rather than just an observer. I had to "ask" in order to receive.
I posted my question on Facebook group: NJ SPECIAL NEEDS CONNECTION run by
Dena Buonarota Russell. This group has close to 4k members who genuinely want to reach out and help, including Dena herself. Within seconds I started receiving answers. Within 24 hours I received not only answers but tremendous guidance and options for my exact needs for my son. I was literally blown away by the outcome. My needs were met ten-fold. I since "asked" again, and received the same results. Dena Buonarota Russell also has an extensive website of resources for anything related to special needs that offers great information. www.njspecialneedsconnection.com
She offers her service, because she can, and she does it with humor, wit, and consistency like no other.
It is a basic human need to want to help another person. Help others feel important by "asking" for their help. And once you receive their valuable advice, pay it forward by helping someone else when they ask you. This is how we create a domino effect of goodness in our world.
Debra Taubenslag, Author
No Stone Unturned: How My Special Needs Child and I Transformed Against All Odds