Mental Health Support for Hispanic Latino Special Needs Families

Strengthening Mental Health Support for Hispanic Latino Special Needs Families

February 25, 2023

Enhancing Access to Mental Health Resources and Services

Building Emotional Resilience and Support Networks

Finding appropriate help and relevant resources that would benefit special needs children and their parents is an ever-present challenge.When compounded with the extra difficulties of language (Information in English almost exclusively), along with other cultural disadvantages, Hispanic Latino special needs children and parents are often left with a near impossible task of knowing what services are available, and how to access help and assistance. The workshop was in response to the recognized issues facing Hispanic and Latino special needs children and their parents, facilitating both awareness and opportunities to disseminate information, and provide networking and support.

HHCGA along with its partners and other stake holders organized the event. The presentations and interactions with attendees enabled meaningful exchanges, and reveled the tremendous commitment and courage demonstrated by the parents of special needs kids. Julian Santiago Ramon lead the HHCGA team effort and summarized the overall impact of the even with this comment:

We need to give a voice to parents of children with disabilities. Having these parent forums allows them to learn and ask questions, to express concerns, fears and needs, and gives them a sense that they are not alone, we are all in this together. We need to make sure that the people who are providing their courses have direct interaction with the people who are receiving those resources. How do you fix something if you don’t know what the issue is? 

 

Asa community, we need to be as approachable and unthreatening as possible. They appreciate that more than one would think.” 

Another HHCGA team member and presenter, Daniela, took notice of the special needs children, some with severe physical disorders, and how it was sad that these children were often in the “shadows” and thus received little attention. Daniela was moved to say this about the children:

“TheStep Art Foundation’s mission is to provide the necessary tools for families of special needs and neurodiverse children in the Hispanic community.

I was able to connect with them on a deeper level because I see them as more than just kids with special needs. At the same time, I was moved by the way these kids use art to express their emotions and how they strive to develop their talents in order to showcase their abilities to the world, proving that they are anything but invisible.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge all the hard-working moms out there who dedicate themselves to their children full-time. Their efforts are fueled by love, as they strive to amplify their children's voices and ensure that they are recognized as valued members of our society.

Elia Wiggins was on hand as HHCGA promoters with both medical and parental experience in support of the events mission. Elia made this observation about the workshop:

As parents we rely on our friends and family for advice, guidance and emotional support mainly because they are parents and we can relate to them. However, for parents with special needs children often there is an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and helplessness. As an observer and as a parent I was able to see how great the need is for children to meet, play and socialize but also it is critical for parents and caregivers to have a place to get the emotional support, educational resources as well as the opportunity to take a deep breath and know that you are not alone that others are also living your reality and to understand your feelings matter. It is aBlessing to the Latino communities to have access to resources in our language.”

SPANISH

Las familias con niños con necesidades espaciales y sus familias están en un constante desafío de encontrar la ayuda y los recursos necesarios que los beneficien. Es especialmente complicado cuando se juntan las dificultades del idioma (información que está casi exclusivamente disponible en inglés) y las desventajas culturales. Las familias hispanas y latinas a menudo se enfrentan a una tarea casi imposible: saber qué servicios están disponibles y cómo acceder a dichos recursos para recibir ayuda. El taller fue en respuesta de los problemas que enfrentan estas familias de necesidades especiales. Se creó conciencia de las dificultades que se presentan y se facilitaron los contactos necesarios para las familias.

HHCGA, junto con sus socios y Step Art ORG, organizó el evento. Las presentaciones y las interacciones con los asistentes permitieron intercambios significativos y revelaron el tremendo compromiso y coraje demostrado por las madres y padres de niños con necesidades especiales. Julian Santiago Ramón lideró el esfuerzo del equipo de HHCGA y resumió el impacto general del evento con este comentario:

“Necesitamos darle voz a todos estos papitos de niños con necesidades especiales. Estas conferencias les permiten hacer preguntas, y así mismo expresar sus preocupaciones, miedos y necesidades. Les da la Seguridad de que no están solos, y que estamos para apoyarlos. Necesitamos asegurarnos de que las organizaciones proveyendo los recursos, tengan contacto directo con las familias que están recibiendo esos recursos. ¿Cómo se arregla algo sin saber cuál es el daño?

Como comunidad, debemos ser lo mas confiables posible, que sepan que cuentan con nosotros. Ellos aprecian eso mas de lo que uno se imagina”

Otro miembro del equipo y presentadora, Daniela Benavides, se dio cuenta de las necesidades de estas familias y de los niños, algunos con trastornos físicos graves. Resaltó que le entristeció que estos niños a menudo están en las “sombras” y, por lo tanto, reciben poca atención. Daniela se conmovió al decir esto acerca de los niños:

“La organizacion step art tiene la mision de proveer herramientas a niños y sus familias con necesidades especiales o neurodiversos en  la comunida hispana.
Yo conecte con esta fundacion porque mas alla de ver niños con condiciones especiales, veo niños que conectan con otro tipo de lenguaje.  
Veo a estos niños pintar o buscar el arte como medio e comunicacion nos hace entender como se sienten internamente, Adicional como buscan desarrollar un talento para incluirse denteo de la sociedad y demostrarles que no son invisibles.
No voy a dejar de lado la labor tan especial que realizan estas madres. Es un trabajo de tiempo completo pero que lo hacen con todo el amor porque tambien quieren alzar la voz de sus hijos y que sepan que ellos tambien hacen parte del mundo.”

Elia Wiggins estuvo presente como promotora de HHCGA con su experiencia médica y parental en apoyo de la misión del evento. Elia hizo esta observación sobre el taller:

“Como padres, confiamos en nuestros amigos y familiares para obtener consejos, orientación y apoyo emocional principalmente porque ellos también son padres y podemos relacionarnos con ellos. Sin embargo, para los padres de niños de con necesidades especiales a menudo hay una abrumadora sensación de soledad e impotencia. Como observadora y como madre, pude ver cuán grande es la necesidad de que los niños se conozcan, jueguen y socialicen. Pero, también es fundamental que los padres y cuidadores tengan un lugar donde obtener apoyo emocional, recursos educativos, y la oportunidad de respirar profundamente y saber que no están solos, que otros también están viviendo su realidad y que sus sentimientos son validos. Es una bendición para las comunidades latinas tener acceso a recursos en nuestro idioma.”

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