The purpose of this study was to explore what role online and offline support groups play in the lives of families with children who have developmental disabilities. Eight semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with married mothers who had one to five children. The study revealed that caregivers saw online and offline support groups as playing important but different roles in their lives and the lives of their families. Online support groups were particularly appreciated during the initial steps of learning about a child’s disability when caregivers felt isolated and eager to learn more. During that stage, online support groups offered them volumes of valuable information and access to people across the world who go through similar experiences. Offline support groups offered participants of this study a sense of strong connection and belonging, and allowed them to spend time with other adults and learn about resources available in their community. The mothers also appreciated the opportunity provided to the children with disabilities and their siblings to make friends and spend time together.
Author Iryna Sharaievska, Brooke Burk
Volume Vol. 52, No. 1 (2018)