Cutline: Susann Williams, whose son has been diagnosed with autism, says a local Facebook support group provides her and her family a special-needs “community.” 

A Middle Tennessee mother has found the power of social media to bring together a group of parents similar to her who are facing challenges raising a child with disabilities.

Amy Chanin of Nashville created the Middle TN Disability Resources and Support Group Facebook page that allows parents, guardians and caretakers to share reliable information and connect with one another.

The group has grown to include more than 1,000 members, including Wilson County residents Susann Williams and Yadira Calderon.

Chanin, who is deaf and relies on cochlear implants to hear, has a son diagnosed with autism.

 “I wanted to have one page where we could all come together as parents of disabled children to share reliable resources and connect with other parents with similar situations to get valuable advice,” Chanin said. “Our mission is focused on many disabilities, rather than just one limited topic.”

Williams said her son was born with hearing loss and diagnosed with autism about two years ago. She said it can be difficult and sometimes lonely raising a child with a disability when many people cannot relate to her situation.

“I joined the Middle TN Disability Resources and Support Facebook page because even though I’ve never met many of these parents, I know them,” Williams said. “I know the apprehension they feel trying to navigate a trip to the local grocery store and the joy they feel when their child, or children, attend an indoor playground without the fear of them being knocked down or treated poorly. This group has given me a community.”

Typical discussion topics in the group include insurance coverage, vocational rehabilitation, disability benefits, accommodations, therapies and even babysitter recommendations.

Information about local events for families with special needs children and adults are also disseminated in the group, as well as summer camps and conferences.

“Raising a child with disabilities is challenging. It takes a lot of work to achieve quality of life. This group fulfills our needs,” Calderon said. “From comfort and support to detailed information on services needed to keep helping our kids. In this era of information overload, this group streamlines what is useful."

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