Friendship Circle by the Sea is the first and only program of its kind to directly support the foundation of the special needs family—the parents.

In a home with a special needs child, the parents’ needs are often the most neglected. Yet, parents face what can feel like overwhelming challenges—from the time they discover their child’s special needs, to navigating the maze of resources, to the day-to-day realities of raising the child and caring for the rest of the family, too. While their time may be filled with appointments, therapies and other responsibilities, parents can still feel alone and isolated in their struggle. With a soaring divorce rate among parents of children with special needs, the existence of a caring, understanding and supportive community for parents is critical now more than ever.

Friendship Circle by the Sea is committed to changing this pattern and providing support to the entire special needs family. Whether raising a child with various physical, developmental or emotional challenges, parents who come to our center have found comfort and friendship. Our growing mothers’, fathers’ and siblings’ monthly support groups, as well as our unique family conferences, are making a significant difference already. One mother commented,

I’m a single mom with a special-needs child. We both felt very alone before joining Friendship Circle by the Sea. But, now we feel we have finally been included into a community! A community that has become our family...

Our support groups and conferences feature world-renowned speakers in the special needs field who enlighten and enrich the families with tools for coping with challenges, balancing the needs of the family, finding meaning through spirituality, and more. Plus, the families are also benefiting from camaraderie with others who are also living the joys and trials of raising special needs children. In addition, our Friends @ Home project is actively pairing the children with teen mentors and friends to enrich both of their lives in weekly programs. As a result, the parents benefit here too, gaining a regular respite needed to recharge, and the pleasure of seeing their children become part of the community circle.

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