Parents of special needs children know it takes a team of professionals to help them raise their kids and address the difficulties that can come along with that.
But two New York mothers, Susan Kleiman, of Armonk, and Dana DeRuvo Hanner, of Bay Shore, realized there was no central place to find lawyers, pediatricians, summer camps and get advice on how to navigate their unique parenting challenges. So, they took matters into their own hands by creating a group on Facebook to bring mothers of special needs children together.
Since 2012, the Facebook forum known as Special Moms has grown from a local group into an international network of more than 1,900 parents, including fathers, they said. Earlier this year, the duo launched a website, which allowed them to expand their educational resources of blogs and posts while generating an organized database of professionals like doctors, therapists and clinicians who specialize in assisting children with disabilities.
“It was just a fluky thing,” Kleiman said. “We were just talking on the phone and said there’s nothing there for moms and it really snowballed.”
The co-founders met more than five years ago at the Center for Discovery, a residential facility in Harris, New York, for children and adults with special needs, where their sons were living at the time.
“There was nothing centralized on the internet for mothers to be educated, empowered and supported all in one place,” DeRuvo Hanner said.