In the fall of 2006 after my son was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age I started asking around if there were any local support groups for parents of children with ADHD. The answer was the same, “No, but that is a great idea. You should start one.” I kept my eyes and ears open and one year later in October 2007 Moses Cone had a lecture by an area psychiatrist on “Understanding ADHD.” I was so encouraged by the room completely full of parents all dealing with similar issues. I sat next to Blair Churchill and we realized our boys were exactly the same age with ADHD. Sherri McMillen (Marketing department of Moses Cone Behavioral Health Center) facilitated the presentation that night. After the meeting, Blair and I talked to Sherri about how beneficial it would be to be able to meet with local parents again to share stories as well as learn information from area professionals. We met Sherri a few weeks later and by the end of 2007 we were on a mission to start a local support group for parents of children with ADHD.
Blair and I went to meet with Dr. Anastopoulos (Director of UNCG AD/HD Clinic) in January 2008 about our idea. He was so encouraging and stated he was surprised when he moved here that Greensboro did not have such a group already in place. He stated that his AD/HD clinic had thought of starting one but he believed the most effective support groups were parent developed and led. That way it would more be geared to what parents wanted to learn verses what the professionals thought that parents wanted to know. We then met with Brooke Juneau from Family Support Network. Family Support Network of Central Carolina (FSN-CC) serves families whose children have been diagnosed with a special need or chronic illness, or who have been born prematurely. They were a fantastic resource to us on how to start up a community support group as they assist in several other parenting support groups in the area.
By early 2008, we had a clinical advisor and expert to guide us (Dr. Anastopoulos with the ADHD clinic), Family Support Network was able to assist us through the process of starting a community support group, and Moses Cone Behavioral Health was able to help market our group through their community and professional connections.
After almost a year of planning meetings the first support group meeting was held in September 2008. Moses Cone supplied fliers promoting the meeting that Blair and I took all over town – pediatricians/psychologists/schools/grocery stores/libraries etc.
There were 50 parents that came to our first ever support group and we were thrilled!!! Trinity Church (5200 West Friendly Avenue) has been gracious enough to allow us to use their facility for our meetings. Our speakers over the past two years have included local psychologists, developmental pediatricians, a representative from the Exceptional Children/Psychological services of GCS, and a psychiatrist. We were even fortunate enough to have two nationally known experts on ADHD (former coworkers of Dr. Anastopoulos) fly down from from their jobs up north to be guest speakers.
Blair and Susan developed a survey which was distributed to parents to determine what topics related to ADHD were of interest. The topics for the year were then based on the survey response.
The number of parents that attend our meetings vary but several times we have had 80 parents in attendance! It is such a wonderful resource to hear our local experts share information with parents as well as have time to ask them questions. Meeting other parents going through similar situations has been so helpful. Knowing that you are not alone in this process is encouraging. Now the support group has this website which was originally developed and maintained by Family Support Network, but was redesigned by a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media master’s program in early 2012. Be sure to take a look around as the site grows. You can join our Facebook or Google chat where parents can ask a question and get responses from other parents in our group. This way parents can connect with each other if they choose in between our scheduled support group meeting times.
The meetings are held every other month during the school year Sept – March. The meetings are 6:30-8:30pm on the third Tuesday of the month at Trinity Church.
The resource group has completed eleven years of meetings (September 2008 – March 2017). In 2010 Susan and Blair decided to step down as parent liaisons. Three new moms took over this important leadership role – Kim Freedman, Molly Haile and Chris Skidmore. In 2012 Molly stepped down to pursue a graduate degree. In 2013 Dr. Erin Morrissey-Kane became our Clinical Advisor, taking the place of Dr. Arthur Anastopoulos. In 2016 Dr. Martha Perry joined our committee as our Medical Advisor. We are so grateful for the support of Family Support Network, Moses Cone Behavioral Health and Trinity Church. The local professional community has also been wonderful as they have been willing to donate their time preparing, giving lectures, and answering many parent questions at meetings. When the resource group started, we had no money; only the desire to help educate and support parents of children with ADHD. We were so pleased that our resource group was so successful right from the start, and value the input from parents and educators that attend our meetings.