Mothers of babies and toddlers diagnosed with developmental delays due to prematurity, or a developmental disability like Down syndrome, may find support from other mothers in the same infant stimulation or early intervention program or in playgroups set up by advocacy or support organizations. Their mainstream peers may sign up for Mommy and Me classes or parent education programs like PEPS, hoping to find information and support as they begin and continue their journey in motherhood. In some communities, mothers' groups are offered through public health departments, parks departments, community colleges with childcare facilities, or family support organizations. Some churches and cultural centers offer opportunities where mothers of very young children can meet and exchange stories while they hold their babies and their older children play together.
It is rare for such playgroups to reflect the true diversity of our communities, unless this is a specific goal of the organizers. Even in infant stimulations classes at early intervention centers, there may be a noticeable lack of cultural or racial diversity. Mothers of babies with Down syndrome, physical disabilities, or developmental delays may find it difficult to attend mainstream Mommy and Me events due to time constraints, and may not feel welcome unless they are specifically invited. In areas with strong support services for babies and toddlers, they may be diverted into disability-related resources where they never meet mothers of their children's mainstream peers. This is a loss for every neighborhood family.
It may not be a reasonable expectation that mothers of young babies or toddlers set up playgroups themselves, especially if their son or daughter has medical appointments or therapy sessions scheduled from their earliest days. But some moms have done just that. Most inclusive playgroups and parent education classes have been created by mothers of older children who wish the same opportunities had been available to their families, by advocates for individuals with disabilities, and by those who have grown up with a disability. Multicultural family groups and organizations have been very welcoming to mothers of newly diagnosed babies and children. It can be difficult for the mother of a baby or toddler with a disability to be the only one in a mainstream parent education class, whether there is other diversity among participants or they integrate a monocultural group.
New moms looking for playgroups with other mothers of babies or toddlers can use social media or local resources to set up a series of introductory meetings with childhood specialists, parent educators, or others with expertise in development. Inclusive playgroups often lead to lifelong friendships.
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Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato, & Ha Ha Ha: A Rulebook of Children's Games
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