When schools closed due to the public health crisis this spring, many parents were left feeling stressed and overwhelmed. For parents of children with disabilities, however, the closure of schools was especially devastating. “Predictable structure is vitally important for children with disabilities,” explained Sara Freedman, director of JF&CS CHAI Services. “Without their daily routines, children with disabilities are feeling bored, they are feeling isolated, and they may start acting out.”

Many parents of adult children with disabilities have also found themselves in a challenging situation. With day programs and places of employment temporarily shuttered, adults with disabilities are stuck at home, missing their friends or co-workers and grappling with hours of unstructured time.

A Resource for Parents

To help parents during this period of uncertainty, JF&CS CHAI Services is offering Free Parent Coaching. “We knew we couldn’t replace the structure or respite that individuals and their families were missing without school, day programs and extracurricular activities,” said Sara. “But we wanted parents to know they weren’t alone during this time and that JF&CS is here to support them.”

Available to anyone who has a child with a disability, our Free Parent Coaching sessions are tailored to the specific needs of each family who reaches out to us. JF&CS CHAI Services is staffed by experts in clinical, educational and behavioral management who have both professional and personal experience working and living with people with disabilities. Whether it’s helping parents create a daily schedule for their child, putting emergency plans in place or recommending additional resources, our knowledgeable staff members are a lifeline for parents and guardians.

Helping Families Chart a Course

Since our Free Parent Coaching service was launched in March, JF&CS has been able to help clients with a wide range of issues. “We have gotten a lot of great feedback from communities and parents,” said Sara. “People are thankful to have a number to call where they can ask for help.”

For Miriam* and Aaron*, a couple we recently started working with, the pandemic exacerbated issues their 19-year-old son David* was already facing. David, who was diagnosed with autism, left high school in June 2019 with no supports in place and no daily structure. With the current COVID-19 situation, David was feeling extremely isolated and depressed.

Our Free Parent Coaching team was able to offer David’s parents several resources, including a review of his 504 Accommodation Plan from high school, a walk-through on filing for Supplemental Security Income, help with reaching out to Jewish Vocational Services, referrals for therapists who specialize in working with young adults with high-functioning autism and options for neurological testing through MassHealth and the Brookline Center for Mental Health. We also discussed the best way for Aaron and Miriam to counsel David about his support options while being sensitive to his aversion to being labeled as “disabled” or “special needs.”

“Miriam and Aaron have been enthusiastic about working with us,” said Sara. “They have been great partners as we explore all the resources available to them and put together a daily structure for David.”

Get in Touch

If you are a parent in need of support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to JF&CS CHAI Services. From a Free Parent Coaching consultation to more hands-on assistance, guidance and advocacy from our Disability Lifespan Solutions program, JF&CS has the expertise to meet the challenges families are facing.

To set up a phone call or video meeting, please email us at drn@jfcsboston.org or call 781-693-5640.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

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